Click here to obtain a Word version of this document for adaptation
When to use this charge: This charge may be used in all trials that were commenced on or after 1 July 2013.
It may be used when a jury asks a question which directly or indirectly raises the meaning of the phrase “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Note: In determining the manner in which to answer a question from the jury about the meaning of “beyond reasonable doubt”, it is important to ensure that the answer is tailored in such a way that it directly answers the question posed by the jury.
Members of the jury, you have asked [read question aloud].
To answer that question, I direct you that:
Each of the following ways of answering the question may be used on its own, or in combination with any of the other options.
1. It is a critical part of our justice system that people are presumed to be innocent, unless and until they are proved guilty. That is a basic premise which is fundamental to all criminal trials. As the prosecution brings the charge[s] against the accused, it is for the prosecution to prove [that charge/those charges]. The accused does/do not have to prove anything. That never changes from start to finish. It is not for the accused to demonstrate his/her/their innocence, but for the prosecution to prove the charge[s] they have brought against him/her/them. So before you may return a verdict of guilty [of any charge], the prosecution must satisfy you beyond reasonable doubt that [each of] the accused is guilty of the charge[s] in question.
2. Proof beyond reasonable doubt requires more than finding that the accused is probably guilty, or very likely to be guilty. In those circumstances, you must give the benefit of the doubt to the accused and acquit because the prosecution has not satisfied you of the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
3. You cannot be satisfied that the accused is guilty if you have a reasonable doubt about whether the accused is guilty.
4. It is almost impossible to prove anything with absolute certainty when reconstructing past events, and the prosecution is not required to do so.
5. A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary or fanciful doubt or an unrealistic possibility.
Last updated: 27 April 2016