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Presumption of Innocence
 

  • INNOCENCE, PRESUMPTION OF - The indictment or formal charge against any person is not evidence of guilt. Indeed, the person is presumed by the law to be innocent. The law does not require a person to prove his innocence or produce any evidence at all. The Government has the burden of proving a person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and if it fails to do so the person is (so far as the law is concerned) not guilty.
  • courts are increasingly changing the definition of reasonable doubt, particularly by Magistrates and Justices of the Peace in a way that is eroding the presumption of innocence.
  • Some scholars identify Anglo-American law as the source of the presumption of innocence, claiming that the presumption of innocence has spread throughout the world over time on the basis of its centrality in Anglo-American jurisprudence. However, evidence exists of the independent development of the presumption of innocence in continental Europe. The presumption of innocenceprobably developed in two parallel and independent routes in continental Europe and in Anglo-American law
  • The Tipmra maintains that given the near certainty of conviction in the majority of speeding ticket trials where the defendant is unprepared but credible illustrates that for speeding the presumption of innocence is a mere fiction.
     

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The Legal Meaning of Presumption of Innocence

 


"How come they treat me as if I am guilty when I am presumed innocent until proven otherwise?"

By reading this page you will know what less than 1 in 1,000 know, and what many attorneys and Judges only think they know.

In an argument a presumption is what someone owns. Think of an argument as a scale. If both sides of the scale are equal the one that owns the presumption wins. A presumption can be a presumption of debt, a presumption of title and so on. As a defendant you own the "presumption of innocence".

Many confuse presumption with assumption or assertion. An assumption is a position that is not proven but because of the circumstances can be considered correct. An assertion is a claim made justifying the assumption. If challenged by the owner of the presumption the Burden of proving the assertion is placed upon the party making the assertion. Failure to prove the assertion results in the owner of the presumption prevailing in the dispute.

In an arrest the person making the arrest warrants to the court (makes a type of guarantee) that there is a warrant (a link between a claim and evidence) to prove an assertion. In other words the arresting officer when he fills out your ticket swears to the court that there is sufficient evidence to to prove his assertion that you were speeding.

If you do not challenge the assertion then you accept as fact the elements of the assertion and give up your ownership of the presumption. By pleading Not Guilty you are challenging the prosecution's assumption which is based on assertion of guilt. Your presumption will prevail unless the party making the assertion can provide the link between the evidence presented and its
 claim. Without evidence a claim can not be proven and your presumption prevails.

Your presumption of innocence does not mean that the court believes you are innocent. On the contrary the court believes you are guilty because a warrantee has been made by a responsible party to the court that they can make the link between proof and claim to outweigh your presumption.

Until such time when the assertion is tested your presumption prevails and you are innocent. However, since the prosecution has given its assurance, its
 warrantee, the court will assume you as being guilty even though you are presumed innocent. The court can place restrictions on you until such time when the prosecution has opportunity to present its
 evidence to prove its
 assertion.

The prosecutions assertion is not timeless. By making the assertion it also warrants that it has all the evidence it needs and needs no more evidence to prevail over your presumption. The prosecution assures the court that is ready for trial at a place and time of the court's choosing. To prevent indefinite delays as to the trial there are statute of limitations, Time expiring points where if the assertion is not tested in a timely manner, it goes away. In that event the presumption prevails.

In short, the court will assume you are a criminal because of the warrantee made by the prosecution. The fact that you own your presumption of innocence and in fact are innocent is what the prosecution must overcome to gain a conviction.

It is not that you are innocent until proven guilty as many believe. It is that you are assumed guilty because of the assertion made and until your presumption of innocence prevails your protestation of innocence is simply the challenge to the prosecution to prove its
 case.

If the prosecutions assertion is not tested in a timely manner or if it fails in any way to prove its
 assertion then your presumption takes precedence.

Since you own the presumption you have nothing to prove. The court recognizes the fact that the presumption is yours. With the presumption is innocence you do not have to prove innocence as it is a given. The Burden of proving otherwise is upon the party making the assertion.

If the presumption were a presumption of title you would maintain the title unless the opposing party proved their assertion. However because of the conflict created the court can protect the party making the assertion by preventing you from selling the title until such time as the case is heard. In a similar way the court can have you jailed to prevent you from fleeing even though you still own the presumption.

However the truth is that in a speeding ticket trial the court not only assumes you are guilty but it also considers your presumption of innocence as nothing more than an inconvenience.
 

 

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NOTE: This article has been submitted (with minor changes) by attorneys as original work and by Law school students as well. I have been contacted by Law firms and Law Schools asking if this was my work or if the Student or attorney was plagiarising. I give everyone permission to reprint this article making changes as necessary, but please refrain from submitting it as original work.

 

 

 

 

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