Reasonable Doubt

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Reasonable Doubt

“Innocent till proven guilty,” that is the base of the American justice system. To be ‘proven’ guilty of a serious crime it must be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant has committed the crime. Once a person has been convicted of a crime they are considered guilty and will be sentenced to a term in prison with or without the possibility of parole. Both a guilty verdict and its sentence (though far rarer) can be appealed, when a higher court decides whether the case was legit or not.

This court system is designed to prevent the innocent from going to prison for crimes they did not commit, and the appeals system is to get the wrongly convicted free in case of human error. Getting a court to agree to an appeal isn’t as easy as claiming “I am innocent, you’ve got the wrong guy”. Grounds for appeal include legal error, newly discovered evidence, juror misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. Retrials and appeals will only be granted once such errors have been proven to make a difference in the judgement.

Getting a court to take another look at a criminal case isn’t an easy task so many, even the truly innocent, wonder whether it’s worth the trouble. Luckily for them, Chris Anderson and Fatima Silva have made it their mission to avoid miscarriages of justice. Chris Anderson is a retired homicide detective and Fatima Silva is a criminal justice attorney and together they look at controversial murder cases to see if the courts and police did their due diligence. They take a look at the evidence and advise the families of the defendants whether they should appeal the verdict or make peace with the conviction.

Thursdays at 9:50 PM on ID (ch 223) from 20 August