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Legal Dictionary
  • Abiding Conviction
Abiding Conviction
Abiding conviction means a definite conviction of a defendant's guilt based on the evidence presented. It is derived through the examination of the whole case. It is commonly used to instruct juries on the frame of mind required for guilt proved beyond a reasonable doubt. It is also termed as a settled or fixed conviction. “The United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court, respectively, have described "an abiding conviction" as one that is settled and fixed, and one that is lasting and permanent. These descriptions of "abiding," though, are self-evident and an unnecessary elaboration of a readily understood term. The phrase "abiding conviction" does not require definition.”[ People v. Pierce, 172 Cal. App. 4th 567 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009)]. “The phrase "abiding conviction" in CALCRIM No. 220, even without being described as "felt," adequately conveys the subjective state of certitude required by the standard of proof. The modifier "abiding" informs the juror that his or her conviction of guilt must be more than a strong and convincing belief. Use of the term "abiding" tells the juror that his or her conviction must be of a lasting, permanent nature, and it informs the juror as to how strongly and how deeply his or her conviction must be held. The term "abiding conviction" in the reasonable doubt instruction conveys the requirement that the jurors' belief in the truth of the charge must be both long lasting and deeply felt. This is so whether the conviction is "held," "felt," or had. The phrase "abiding conviction" needs no additional context or description to convey the type of personal conviction required to pronounce guilt.”[ People v. Zepeda, 167 Cal. App. 4th 25 (Cal. Ct. App. 2008)].