Truth or Doubt? An Empirical Test of Criminal Jury Instructions

Michael D. Cicchini *

Lawrence T. White **

The Constitution protects a criminal defendant from conviction unless the government can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the Constitution does not require that trial courts use any particular set of words when defining reasonable doubt for the jury. Instead, a broad range of jury instructions have been deemed constitutionally acceptable, provided they do not diminish or dilute the government‘s high burden of proof.

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*Criminal Defense Lawyer, Cicchini Law Office, LLC, Kenosha, Wisconsin. J.D., 1999, Marquette University Law School; C.P.A., 1997, University of Illinois Board of Examiners; M.B.A., 1994, Marquette University Graduate School; B.S., 1990, University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

**Professor and Chair of Psychology, Beloit College; Director, Beloit College‘s Law & Justice Program. Ph.D., 1984, University of California, Santa Cruz; M.A.,1979, California State University at Fresno; B.A., 1975, Whittier College.