You just asked a mouthful. The official dictionary definition of reasonable doubt in Tennessee, and we aren’t kidding about this, is “the evidence must be so strong that there is no reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.” Wow, this is a very powerful definition statement, that just begs for Fizer Bonding Company, “getting your tail outta jail asap”! They do this affordably, quickly, and easily, every day 24/7 in Robertson and Montgomery counties in Tennessee.

To better define this important concept, some courts improvise. One popular definition is that a reasonable doubt is not a possible or imaginary doubt. That definition isn’t much better. If I say a pangolin is not a bullfrog or a canary, you still don’t know what a pangolin is. Another popular definition is that a reasonable doubt is an abiding conviction of guilt. That’s a better definition, assuming you know what “abiding” means in practical terms. You can see why calling Fizer Bonding Company to get you or a loved one out of jail quickly in Montgomery and Robertson counties is the best idea and the most important call to make (615) 667-1109. 

Getting it right is important. If the judge includes an incorrect reasonable doubt definition in the jury instructions, a convicted defendant could have grounds for a successful appeal, regardless of the evidence in the case. If the judge includes an unhelpful definition, jurors have no idea what they’re doing.

Getting out of jail is even more important. Procedural defenses and criminal appeals aren’t realistic options for incarcerated defendants. Most Clarkisville inmates in this situation immediately plead guilty, no matter what the state can prove. At Fizer Bonding Company, our Montgomery County bail bonds agents allow lawyers to use the best weapon available in a criminal defense, which is a lack of evidence.

Preliminary Matters

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, talking about beyond a reasonable doubt. Before the guilt or innocence phase begins, the state must prove officers had reasonable suspicion for the stop and probable cause for the arrest.

Generally, officers see people committing traffic violations, or the officer spots a non-moving violation, like an expired dealer tag, and pulls the defendant over. Reasonable suspicion might seem clear in such situations, but not so fast.

Basically, reasonable suspicion is an evidence-based hunch. It’s not a hunch based on evidence. For example, many people get nervous when they see squad cars, even if they have nothing to hide. If a motorist nervously looks in the rear view mirror, the officer cannot follow the motorist until s/he commits a traffic violation, pull over the motorist, and claim the stop was valid. That’s not reasonable suspicion. That’s profiling.

Probable cause for an arrest is a higher standard. In 2015, an Iowa federal judge ruled that officers had probable cause to arrest a man who was traveling 1mph over the speed limit. 1mph is within a RADAR gun’s margin of error, so officers knew the charges wouldn’t hold up in court. Nevertheless, “it is only necessary for the government to show probable cause that the defendant was driving in excess of the speed limit. It has done so here,” the court ruled.

The point here is that officers had solid evidence of speeding. They didn’t estimate the driver’s speed at 1mph over the limit. They knew his exact speed. Reasonable suspicion requires solid evidence of illegal activity. Probable cause requires solid evidence of the charged offense.

Evidence at Trial

Lack of reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause means the case never makes it to trial. If the case does in fact get that far, possible defenses include a complete lack of evidence and a lack of compelling evidence.

Complete Lack of Evidence

If a judge suppresses physical evidence, there’s no proof of physical possession of contraband. Likewise, the state must prove every element of every offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Usually, judges rule on the admissibility of evidence at a pretrial suppression hearing. Two doctrines, fruit from a poisonous tree and warrantless searches or seizures, come into play at these hearings.

Assume Officer Steve pulls over Michelle for speeding. Pain medication is found in her vehicle. Michelle admits she doesn’t have a prescription for the pain pills in her glove compartment. That looks like an open-and-shut drug possession case, right? Wrong.

Officer Steve didn’t inform Michelle of her right to remain silent. As a result, any evidence Officer Steve obtains, such as illegal pills, is fruit from a poisonous tree. 

To explain lack of evidence on a key element, let’s change the facts a bit. Assume Michelle runs off the road and into a tree. Someone sees her inspecting her car from the outside and calls the police. Officer Steve arrives on scene, Michelle flunks a breath test, and Officer Steve books Michelle into a Clarksville jail. Once again, this case isn’t nearly as straightforward as it seems.

Remember that the “D” in DUI stands for “driving.” Officer Steve cannot testify that Michelle was driving the car. The unnamed witness cannot testify to that fact either. Granted, she was standing near the car, which may be enough to prove she was driving it. However, the burden of proof is very high, so it is not guaranteed that there will be “proof” available of her driving.

Partial Lack of Evidence

Not just any ol’ evidence will do. Physical evidence must be untainted and testimonial evidence must be compelling. In civil court, shaky evidence is often good enough, because the burden of proof is low. “Shaky evidence” doesn’t fly in criminal court. No hemming and hawing in criminal court will be tolerated. 

As long as we’re talking about DUIs, let’s consider breath test validity. Like all machines, Breathalyzers aren’t perfect. In fact, they’re often inaccurate, especially if they haven’t been properly maintained and calibrated. In 2021, a Massachusetts judge excluded about 10,000 Breathalyzer test results, due to accuracy and calibration issues.

Other physical evidence may have chain of custody issues. Typically, physical evidence, like the seized drugs in the first example, go from the scene to a police station, to an evidence locker, then onto a courtroom. A gap in the chain of custody means a question as to the evidence’s reliability. Just here, we have evidence changing in 4 different hands. 

What makes testimonial evidence compelling? The answer to this question varies in different situations. Any substance use, like alcohol use, undermines witness testimony. The same thing is true if the witness is possibly biased, perhaps because the witness has a relative who is a police officer.

We have briefly touched on just a few of the areas where reasonable doubt can be tested and resisted, when you have been arrested. Call Fizer Bonding Company for a fast, compassionate, understanding bail bondsman. If you were booked into a Montgomery County jail and want a lawyer to have the best chance to defend your case, contact Fizer Bonding Company. We offer fast, respectful, and courteous 24/7 bail bond service!  More value added FREE information can be found in our online articles. Fizer Bonding Company is a proud member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents. 

“We’ll get your tail outta jail!”

Fizer Bonding Company Montgomery County Tennessee

(931) 449-9351

Fizer Bonding Company Robertson County Tennessee

(615) 667-1109

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