Briefcase: Criminal Law – Proving Guilt

Guest: David Crump

Sometimes when following a news story about a murder, the public becomes perplexed when an individual shoots and kills someone and is found not guilty. David Crump, with the University of Houston Law Center, teaches criminal law and explains how ca person who causes someone’s death can be found not guilty.

“It depends on the crime,” Professor Crump said. “Once prosecutors determine the charges to be brought against a defendant, they are bound to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden of proof is the transforming aspect of criminal law. It is not enough for there to be some evidence of the elements of a crime.  Every element must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“Juries receive instructions from the judge about the legal requirements for each crime,” Crump continued. “If even one element of a crime is not proven, the defendant must be found not guilty.”