When a person is accused of a crime or offense, it is necessary that he or she undergo due process of the law. This entails that he or she be subject to a court trial wherein a judge or jury provides a verdict upon presentation of proof and arguments. However, a verdict of guilty or not guilty can only be reached once it has been proven that the person accused, the defendant, is guilty or not guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is then the amount of sureness that a judge or jury can provide a verdict with.
The legal concept of reasonable doubt usually refers to the sureness involved in a jury or judge passing a guilty verdict. This essentially means that upon the presentation of facts or truths that prove guilt of the defendant, then the defendant should be considered guilty. This legal concept is connected to the other legal concept that a defendant or any accused is innocent until proven guilty. This legal concept provides an assumption of innocence and any proof of guilt must be beyond reasonable doubt before a judge or jury can provide a guilty verdict.
Criminal cases often necessitate proof beyond reasonable doubt since the punishment for crimes is more severe than a civil case. In instances of civil litigation, preponderance of evidence can be the criteria for dispensation of a guilty verdict rather than beyond reasonable doubt. This means that as long as there was a more than 50% chance of accountability, then it is sufficient to consider the defendant liable.