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Review Questions Print

1. What is meant by the statement "The burden of proof of guilt in a criminal case is on the prosecution throughout the trial"? (SS3.1)

2. Define burden of proof, burden of going forward, and burden of persuasion. (SS3.2)

3. Explain why the burden of going forward with the evidence may shift from the prosecution to the defense and may even shift back to the prosecution. (SS3.2)

4. What is the difference between preponderance of the evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt? Define beyond a reasonable doubt. (SSSS3.3, 3.5)

5. Is there a difference between clear and convincing evidence and a preponderance of the evidence? If so, what is the difference? (SSSS3.3, 3.4)

6. What type of cases may use the legal standard of clear and convincing evidence and preponderance of the evidence? (SSSS3.3, 3.4)

7. If the trial judge fails to instruct the jury about an essential element of the crime and that the jury must find that element beyond a reasonable doubt, must the conviction be reversed? Explain. (SS3.5)

8. What is the rationale for requiring the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case, and not requiring this in a civil case? (SS3.6)

9. Why did the Supreme Court of the United States hold that proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case is a constitutional requirement? (SS3.5)

10. The rule is that the burden of proving guilt does not shift from the prosecution in a criminal case. Does this mean that the accused is not responsible for proving any claim? Explain. (SS3.6)

11. In order to convict a person of the crime charged, each of the elements of the crime must be proved. For example, in a murder case, the elements are: (1) there was an intentional killing of (2) one person by another person, (3) with malice aforethought. What is the result if the prosecution fails to prove any of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt? (SS3.7)

12. If, in an assault and battery case, the accused claims that he or she was not near the place where the alleged incident took place, does the accused have the responsibility to prove that he or she was not at the scene? What degree of evidence is required? (SS3.10)

13. If specific intent is an element of a crime, is it error for the judge to instruct the jury that "it is reasonable to infer that a person intends the natural and probable consequences of an act knowingly done?" Explain. (SS3.8)

14. In some instances the defendant has the burden of proving affirmative defenses. Does this violate due process? (SS3.9)

15. If a defendant makes a threshold showing of proof for an affirmative defense, should the judge offer a jury instruction covering that affirmative defense? (SSSS3.8, 3.9)

16. In some jurisdictions, courts have held that the issue of alibi is an affirmative defense, and when asserted, the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence rests with the defendant. What is meant by an alibi defense? Why do some states require that the defense give notice in advance to the prosecution that alibi witnesses are to be used at the trial? (SS3.10)

17. If the defendant introduces evidence of insanity, must the prosecution prove sanity beyond a reasonable doubt? Discuss the various rules. (SS3.11)

18. If the defendant in a criminal case pleads self-defense, what burden rests with the defense? (SS3.12)

19. After the triers of fact render a guilty verdict, may the reviewing court set aside a conviction if it finds that no rational trier of fact could logically have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Explain your answer. (SS3.13)

20. What is the effect of the beyond a reasonable doubt requirement on the responsibility of the law enforcement investigator? (SS3.14)

21. In the case of Victor v. Nebraska, the United States Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of attempts to define "reasonable doubt." What was the decision of the Court concerning: (1) the requirement of a reasonable doubt instruction; (2) the wording of an instruction; and (3) the correctness of the instructions in the cases. (Victor v. Nebraska, Part II)

22. In the case of Martin v. Ohio, the defendant was tried in state court for aggravated murder. What was the decision of the United States Supreme Court concerning the Ohio practice of placing on the defendant the burden of proving that she was acting in self-defense when she allegedly committed the murder? Do other states follow the same rule regarding the burden of proof when self-defense is claimed by the defendant? (Martin v. Ohio, Part II)

23. In the case of People v. Gordon, the defendant was convicted of possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Among other things, the defendant claimed on appeal that the state's evidence failed to prove the essential elements of the offense. What was the opinion of the reviewing court concerning the burden of proving each element of the crime, the presumption of innocence, and the result if the state fails to prove one element? What was the conclusion of the reviewing court? (People v. Gordon, Part II)