LEGAL INFERENCES

LEGAL INFERENCES

 This post will answer the following questions on the legal concept of “inferences”:

  • Legally speaking, what is an “inference” and when can one be drawn?
  • What are some examples of inferences applied to the legal context?
  • Do the subsidiary facts of a case need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt for an inference to be drawn?
  • Do subsidiary inferences need to be proved in a case beyond a reasonable doubt for those inferences to be drawn?
  • What happens if two possible inferences can be drawn in a case on a particular matter?

 Legally speaking, what is an “inference” and when can one be drawn?

In legal terminology, an inference is a permissible deduction a person may make from evidence that has been accepted as believable. In other words, inferences are little steps in reasoning in which a person takes some known information, applies his or her experience in life to it, and then draws a conclusion.

An inference may be drawn even if NOT necessary or inescapable, so long as it is reasonable and warranted by the evidence, and all the evidence and reasonable inferences in the case together prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

What are some examples of inferences applied to the legal context?

It is easier to explain the concept of an inference by turning to concrete examples of situations in which an inference may be drawn.

Imagine Person A checks his or her mailbox in the morning before leaving for the day and finds it empty. Then imagine that Person A returns to their home in the evening and finds the mailbox full of mail. In this scenario, it would be reasonable to infer that the mailman delivered the mail while Person A was out for the day. Obviously Person A did not see the mailman deliver the mail, but from the fact that the mailbox was empty in the morning and filled in the evening, anybody can properly I infer that in the interim, the mailman came and delivered the mail.

As another example, imagine Person B’s young son leaves home in the morning with an umbrella, without saying anything. A reasonable person would be able to conclude TWO things from this situation:

  1. The son thinks its raining outside
  2. The son intends to go out in the rain

These two conclusions are inferences about the son’s knowledge and his intent. They are considered reasonable because this is what such behavior indicates.

Note that in court, it is permissible to use “illustrations” like the previous two examples to explain the concept of inference, as long the illustrations (ALL OF THE FOLLOWING):

  1. Avoid any similarities to the specific evidence of the case in question
  2. Do NOT involve remote or speculative inferences
  3. Do NOT pile inference on top of another inference
  4. Do NOT provide any suggestion that if a person is very good at deductive reasoning only one conclusion is possible

Do the subsidiary facts of a case need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt for an inference to be drawn?

Subsidiary facts are further particulars of the basic facts of a situation.

The subsidiary facts of a case do NOT need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt for an inference to be drawn.

Do subsidiary inferences need to be proved in a case beyond a reasonable doubt for those inferences to be drawn?

Subsidiary inferences are further particulars of the basic inferences that can be drawn in a situation.

Subsidiary inferences do NOT need to be proved in a case beyond a reasonable doubt for those inferences to be drawn.

Note that a jury may NOT draw an inference unless they are persuaded of the truth of the inference beyond a reasonable doubt ONLY in the case of an inference that directly establishes an element of the crime in question, and NOT to subsidiary inferences of the chain of reasoning.

What happens if two possible inferences can be drawn in a case on a particular matter?

If the admissible evidence in a case is susceptible to two or more reasonable interpretations (i.e. inferences), the jury is required to adopt that favoring the defendant.

Note that the judge is NOT required to put forward on request that if the evidence sustains either of two inconsistent propositions (i.e. “interpretations”), neither has been established.

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.

 CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.

 

 

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