doubt

I
v.
To question or hold questionable
II
n.
Uncertainty of mind; the absence of a settled opinion or conviction; the attitude of mind towards the acceptance of or belief in a proposition, theory, or statement, in which the judgment is not at rest but inclines alternately to either side.
@ reasonable doubt
This is a term often used, probably quite well understood, but not easily defined. It does not mean a mere possible doubt, because everything relating to human affairs, and depending on moral evidence, is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case which, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leaves the minds of jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction to a moral certainty of the truth of the charge.
If upon proof there is reasonable doubt remaining, the accused is entitled to the benefit of it by an acquittal; for it is not sufficient to establish a probability, though a strong one, arising from the doctrine of chances, that the fact charged is more likely to be true than the contrary, but the evidence must establish the truth of the fact to a reasonable and moral certainty, i.e. a certainty that convinces and directs the understanding and satisfies the reason and judgment of those who are bound to act conscientiously upon it. This is proof beyond reasonable doubt; because if the law, which mostly depends upon considerations of a moral nature, should go further than this, and require absolute certainty, it would exclude circumstantial evidence altogether.
Proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" is not beyond all possible or imaginary doubt, but such proof as precludes every reasonable hypothesis except that which it tends to support. It is proof "to a moral certainty"; such proof as satisfies the judgment and consciences of the jury, as reasonable men, and applying their reason to the evidence before them, that the crime charged has been committed by the defendant, and so satisfies them as to leave no other reasonable conclusion possible.
A "reasonable doubt" is such a doubt as would cause a reasonable and prudent man in the graver and more important affairs of life to pause and hesitate to act upon the truth of the matter charged. But a reasonable doubt is not a mere possibility of innocence, nor a caprice, shadow, or speculation as to innocence not arising out of the evidence or the want of it.
+ reasonable doubt
The standard used to determine the guilt or innocence of a person criminally charged. To be guilty of a crime, one must be proved guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Reasonable doubt which will justify acquittal is doubt based on reason and arising from evidence or lack of evidence, and it is doubt which reasonable man or woman might entertain, and it is not fanciful doubt, is not imagined doubt, and is not doubt that juror might conjure up to avoid performing unpleasant task or duty. U. S. v. Johnson, C.A.N.Y., 343 F.2d 5, 6.
Reasonable doubt is such a doubt as would cause prudent men to hesitate before acting in matters of importance to themselves. U. S. v. Chas. Pfizer & Co., Inc., D.C.N.Y., 367 F.Supp. 91, 101.
Doubt based on reason which arises from evidence or lack of evidence. Johnson v. Louisiana, 406 U.S. 356, 360, 92 S.Ct. 1620, 1624, 32 L.Ed.2d 152.
@

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Doubt — • A state in which the mind is suspended between two contradictory propositions and unable to assent to either of them Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Doubt     Doubt      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • doubt — doubt·able; doubt·er; doubt·ful·ly; doubt·ful·ness; doubt·ing·ly; doubt·ing·ness; doubt·less·ness; doubt·some; re·doubt·able; re·doubt·ably; re·doubt·ed; un·doubt·ed·ly; un·doubt·ing·ly; doubt; doubt·ful; doubt·less; mis·doubt; re·doubt;… …   English syllables

  • doubt — I (indecision) noun ambiguity, anxiety, apprehension, apprehensiveness, confusion, dubitatio, dubito, faltering, feeling of uncertainty, hesitancy, improbability, inability to decide, incertitude, indefiniteness, indeterminateness,… …   Law dictionary

  • Doubt — Doubt, n. [OE. dute, doute, F. doute, fr. douter to doubt. See {Doubt}, v. i.] 1. A fluctuation of mind arising from defect of knowledge or evidence; uncertainty of judgment or mind; unsettled state of opinion concerning the reality of an event,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Doubt — Doubt, v. t. 1. To question or hold questionable; to withhold assent to; to hesitate to believe, or to be inclined not to believe; to withhold confidence from; to distrust; as, I have heard the story, but I doubt the truth of it. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • doubt — verb. 1. I doubt whether he ll come and I doubt if he ll come are the standard constructions when doubt is used in the affirmative to mean ‘think it unlikely’. When doubt is used in the negative to mean ‘think it likely’, a that clause is normal …   Modern English usage

  • doubt — (v.) early 13c., to dread, fear, from O.Fr. doter doubt, be doubtful; be afraid, from L. dubitare to doubt, question, hesitate, waver in opinion (related to dubius uncertain; see DUBIOUS (Cf. dubious)), originally to have to choose between two… …   Etymology dictionary

  • doubt — [dout] vi. [ME douten < OFr douter < L dubitare, to waver in opinion < dubius, DUBIOUS; b reintroduced, after L, in 16th c.] 1. to be uncertain in opinion or belief; be undecided 2. to be inclined to disbelief 3. Archaic to hesitate vt.… …   English World dictionary

  • Doubt — (dout), v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Doubted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Doubting}.] [OE. duten, douten, OF. duter, doter, douter, F. douter, fr. L. dubitare; akin to dubius doubtful. See {Dubious}.] 1. To waver in opinion or judgment; to be in uncertainty as to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • doubt — ► NOUN ▪ a feeling of uncertainty. ► VERB 1) feel uncertain about. 2) question the truth of. ● no doubt Cf. ↑no doubt DERIVATIVES doubter …   English terms dictionary

  • doubt — [n] lack of faith, conviction; questioning agnosticism, ambiguity, apprehension, confusion, demurral, difficulty, diffidence, dilemma, disbelief, discredit, disquiet, distrust, dubiety, dubiousness, faithlessness, faltering, fear, hesitancy,… …   New thesaurus

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