Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Although it was widely practiced and held as the standard for all civil and criminal trials for centuries, the presumption of innocence isn’t in the Consitution. Through various legislations and rulings, like the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Taylor vs. Kentucky case in 1978, the courts made it an essential requirement for a fair trial in the criminal justice system that holds to this day.
The presumption of innocence is essential to today’s justice system and proves its worth in all court cases.
What Is the Presumption of Innocence?
The presumption of innocence is as well-known as the phrase “pleading the fifth” because of its common use in television, movies, and everyday conversations.
The presumption of innocence is the legal term in criminal law for innocent until proven guilty, which means that a defendant is innocent of all crimes and misdemeanors unless the prosecution can prove the defendant is liable for each aspect of the crime.
The defendant is guilty in a criminal case if the prosecution can prove guilt and convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, the defendant is innocent if there remains even a sliver of doubt.
Why Is This Policy Important?
When a person is innocent until proven guilty, the courts pressure the prosecution to make the case of guilt rather than having the defendant prove innocence.
This policy is vital because it protects the defendant, allows the defendant to remain silent, and reduces forced confessions and legal intimidation.
#1: This Policy Protects the Defendant
When someone brings a defendant to court, the prosecution’s job is to prove they’re guilty of the accused crimes. The presumption of innocence protects the defendant from having to prove his innocence.
If someone had to prove their innocence, the prosecution could abuse their power and position by accusing the defendant of excessive crimes that aren’t refutable due to lack of evidence. Therefore, presumed innocence protects a defendant from fighting an uphill battle.
#2: The Presumption of Innocence Policy Allows the Defendant to Remain Silent
Similar to the previous reason, the defendant is protected to the extent that he doesn’t need to speak, bring witnesses, or provide a rebuttal to the charges.
And if the defendant’s team remains silent the entire case, their silence isn’t to be used against them, meaning that the courts and jury can’t implicate guilt based on silence.
#3: Presumed Innocence Prevents Forced Confessions
Legal intimidation is an abuse of power, and if a defendant had to prove their innocence, they would more than likely succumb to legal pressures and give a forced confession.
A forced confession doesn’t help anyone and convicts the wrong person of a crime.
When a defendant is presumed innocent, they’re protected from the pressure of the prosecution to admit guilt because the burden of proof relies solely on the prosecution.
Innocence until proven guilty is a proven method of protecting defendants and ensuring the prosecution convicts the right person.
Although the presumption of innocence isn’t explicitly stated in the Constitution, it’s touched on in the Bill of Rights and fourteenth amendment, making it lawful and essential to the current justice system.