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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78176 Find in a Library
Title: Punishment and the Burden of Proof in Criminal Cases - A Modest Proposal
Journal: Iowa Law Review  Volume:66  Issue:4  Dated:(May 1981)  Pages:899-930
Author(s): R D Bartels
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 32
Sponsoring Agency: Iowa Law Foundation
Iowa City, IA 52240
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article suggests that the reasonable doubt standard applicable in criminal cases would be made more meaningful through limited argument by counsel concerning possible penalties, specific jury instructions, or both.
Abstract: Under the due process clause of the 14th amendment, the trier of fact in a criminal case must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict. A second rule of law states that the jury should not be informed prior to its deliberations on guilt or innocence of the penalties that the defendant may suffer if convicted. The article suggests that the degree of certainty that corresponds to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard depends in significant part on the severity of the penal consequences that will follow conviction. Therefore, the jury should be informed of these consequences, especially since the verbal explanations of the reasonable doubt concept are inadequate. The extent of the information that can be provided to the jury about penal consequences will be limited by considerations of time and confusion of the issue. However, it will always be possible to inform the jury of the range of potential penalties through appropriate jury instructions. Giving such instructions will prevent the jury's acting on the basis of an incorrect guess about the consequences of conviction and will do more to rationalize the jury's view of reasonable doubt than will changes in the verbal explanations of the concept. A proposed sample instruction is appended; 95 footnotes are included. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Criminal proceedings; Defendants; Juries; Jury decisionmaking; Jury instructions; Law reform; Punishment; Right to Due Process; Verdicts
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