Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Friday, 17 May 2024 09:39

What is the Criminal Burden of Proof in Queensland?

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reasonable doubt

If you have ever seen a police procedural show or film about a criminal law trial, you undoubtedly have heard the phrase Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is the standard by a Judge, Magistrate or Jury must be satisfied that is person guilty, for them to convict a defendant for a crime. It is the burden which the prosecution must meet to secure a conviction for an offence.


What exactly does Beyond a Reasonable Doubt actually mean?

The High Court of Australia has wrestled with this problem in 2017, where they have said it is generally unwise for a trial judge to try to analyse and define what reasonable doubt is, but ultimately determined that it can assist a jury by explaining and contrasting the standard to that of the civil standard, being on the Balance of Probabilities.


What is the Balance of Probabilities?

The civil standard of Balance of Probabilities is simple. Is it 51% or more likely that the facts presented are probably correct and occurred as stated.

This is a stark contrast to Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. In the civil arena, a decision make must simply be more sure than not that the facts are correct, however by the criminal standard, a decision maker must have no reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty of each and every element of the offence.

It is said that if there is any reasonable doubt or any element of the offence, it is the duty of that Judge, Magistrate or Jury to find the defendant not guilty.

Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof in the Queensland and wider Australian legal system.



This article is a simple and concise outline of a deeply complex and in some ways undefinable principle. Reasonable Doubt will turn on the individual facts of each case and bears significant consideration.

If you have been charged with a Criminal or Traffic Offence, seek legal advice of your rights and options with respect of the charges which have been laid.

Read 21 times Last modified on Friday, 17 May 2024 09:51
Jack Marshall

Jack is a former soldier and now a criminal defence lawyer with Clarity Law. He helps clients navigate the court process and get the best results.