Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Presentation of proof and proving guilty

Published:Saturday | November 18, 2023 | 12:07 AM


I am writing this letter with reference to the article, ‘Convict in killing of Paulwell’s daughter and her mother should have been charged with murder – attorney’, published in The Gleaner on November 16.

I am 100 % per cent certain that the convict was convicted of the right charge.

However, it must be stated that, in the case of convicting a person for murder, the prosecution must show proof, “ beyond a reasonable doubt”. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the higher standard of proof and it is used exclusively in criminal trials. It requires the jury to be certain that the defendant is guilty. This means that any doubts that arise must be reasonable, and if there is any doubt about the defendant’s guilts, the jury must acquit

So, if there is no acquittal, the prosecution must prove three essential facts elements beyond a reasonable doubt. A criminal act ( actus reus), criminal intent ( mens rea), and a concurrence of the previous two elements.

To find the defendant guilty, the defendant must have both mens rea and actual reus together – a guilty mind and the guilty act. Concurrence of the two must be present. This again make it very difficult for the prosecution to gain a conviction.

I would like to legally define the phrase “ accessory before the fact”.

It is “a person who aids, abets, or encourages another to commit a crime but who is not present at the scene”. What makes this difficult to prove in a court of law, video evidence is very critical, and, in most cases, law enforcement does not have any video evidence.

Another definition for the above phrase is “ The Model Penal Code’s definition of accomplice liability includes those who at common law were called accessories before the fact; under the Model Penal Code, accomplices face the same liability as principals.”

In terms of charging a person with “accessory before the fact” that is the easy part. The difficult part is when the prosecution is asking the witnesses tough questions and the witnesses are inconsistence with their answers.

Also, how they are having difficulties explaining how the events happened.