WHAT EXACTLY IS A PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE?
Every criminal defendant is entitled to a presumption of innocence. But what does this really mean? It sure doesn’t seem like an accused is presumed innocent if he’s sitting in jail on a massive bail.
Or sitting in front of a jury with a criminal defense lawyer listening to a judge read off the details of criminal accusations.
Jurors have a natural tendency to look at a criminal defendant and think, “he must have done something or he wouldn’t be sitting here.” Is that defendant presumed innocent?
ARE YOU REALLY INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY?
At its core, the presumption of innocence is the principle that one accused of committing a criminal offense is innocent unless – and until – proven guilty. We all know the government has the burden of proving an accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Some would argue that, aside from the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the presumption of innocence is primarily symbolic. In practice, probable cause to believe one has committed an offense is enough to hold the accused in custody pending trial. Probable cause is a relatively low standard in our criminal justice system.
Probable cause is basically the belief that an accused has committed a crime. An accused would not stand trial unless there was sufficient probable cause to support the charge(s), or, in other words, a belief that the accused committed the charged offense. How does this square with a presumption of innocence?
To be fair, there are plenty of instances where an individual is arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime but is later released without ever facing criminal charges. These are the instances where the presumption of innocence prevails.
Insufficient evidence or uncredible allegations cannot overcome the presumption of innocence. Once an accused has reached trial, however, the presumption is all but over. The criminal defense lawyer must constantly remind and stress her client’s presumption of innocence to the jury.
OUR CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS WILL FIGHT FOR YOUR PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
Our criminal justice system guarantees a presumption of innocence to everyone accused of committing a crime. Every accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you or a loved one is charged with a crime, our criminal defense lawyers will fight to make sure your presumption of innocence means something. It is important to know your