Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Middle Ages: Jury Trial

Information to help students to research the Middle Ages.

Key Terms

Presumption of innocence: The idea that all people accused of a crime are
innocent until proven guilty.


Burden of proof: The duty of the prosecution to prove that the defendant
committed the crime for which he or she has been charged.


• Standard of proof: The level of evidence needed to convince the court of a
person’s guilt. This level can vary based on the degree of the alleged crime. The
standard for a murder case is “Beyond a reasonable doubt.”


• Reasonable doubt: In a criminal case, prosecutors must present sufficient
evidence to overcome the presumption of innocence and prove a defendant’s guilt
“beyond a reasonable doubt.” In other words, no reasonable doubt about the
defendant’s guilt could exist in the mind of the judge or jury based on the evidence
presented.


• Hearsay evidence: A statement provided by someone who did not witness an
event. Instead, someone else told him or her what happened. Such evidence is not
usually allowed in court.


• Evidence presented in court: For a conviction to be legitimate, it must be based
on the evidence presented in court and directly related to the crime.


• Circumstantial evidence: A collection of details that can point to a specific
conclusion but does not provide conclusive proof. Other explanations are possible.

Roles of Judge and Jury

The Jury's Role in a Trial

Key Courtroom People

Judge: A public official appointed to decide cases in a court of law.

Jury: A group of citizens chosen to hear evidence and make a decision in a court of law.

Defendant: An individual, company, or institution sued or accused in a court of law.

Plaintiff: A person who brings an action in a court of law.

Prosecutor: The attorney representing the state's case in a criminal trial. 

Defense Attorney: The attorney representing a defendant in a criminal trial.

Witness: A person who sees an event, typically a crime or accident, take place