The weight of a mere criminal allegation can result in not only the loss of freedom (e.g., imposition of bond or probation detainer) which we often take for granted, but such allegations also can result in loss of employment, anxiety, stress and emotional strain upon yourself and your family. Tim George appreciates that persons accused of criminal offenses need more than just representation by a skilled advocate but also an experienced professional who will listen, care and counsel. These values define his practice. The following principles serve as a framework within which all criminal cases are to be decided. For more information
A fundamental principle of our system of criminal law is that the defendant is presumed to be innocent. The mere fact that he was arrested and is accused of a crime is not any evidence against him. Furthermore, the defendant is presumed innocent throughout a trial and unless and until a jury concludes, based on careful and impartial consideration of the evidence, that the Commonwealth has proven him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
* PA Standard Criminal Jury Instructions, Volume I, Chapter VII, 7.01(1)
It is not the defendant’s burden to prove that he is not guilty. Instead, it is the Commonwealth that always has the burden of proving each and every element of the crime charged and that the defendant is guilty of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The person accused of a crime is not required to present evidence or prove anything in his own defense. If the Commonwealth’s evidence fails to meet its burden, then your verdict must be not guilty. On the other hand, if the Commonwealth’s evidence does prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, then your verdict should be guilty.
* PA Standard Criminal Jury Instructions, Volume I, Chapter VII, 7.01(2)
Although the Commonwealth has the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty, this does not mean that, the Commonwealth must prove its case beyond all doubt and to a mathematical certainty, nor must it demonstrate the complete impossibility of innocence. A reasonable doubt is a doubt that would cause a reasonably careful and sensible person to hesitate before acting upon a matter of importance in his own affairs. A reasonable doubt must fairly arise out of the evidence that was presented or out of the lack of evidence presented with respect to some element of the crime. A reasonable doubt must be a real doubt; it may not be an imagined one, nor may it be a doubt manufactured to avoid carrying out an unpleasant duty.
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.
So, to summarize, a jury may not find the defendant guilty based on a mere suspicion of guilt. The Commonwealth has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If it meets that burden, then the defendant is no longer presumed innocent and a jury should find him guilty. On the other hand, if the Commonwealth does not meet its burden, then the jury must find him not guilty.
* PA Standard Criminal Jury Instructions, Volume I, Chapter VII, 7.01(3) & (4)