Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Legal Meaning of Presumption of Innocence


This is a subject that seems to come up a lot, and also seems to be a concept that is most often misunderstood. I came by what I think is an excellent explanation of The Legal Meaning of The Presumption of Innocence at a website called The Tipmra.. This site is actually a speeding ticket defense website.....luckily I have never needed to use "The Genuine Tipmra Speeding Ticket defense" but I admit I do keep it bookmarked in case that day ever comes. Never say never.......In the mean time I'm happy to give them a plug because they generously give everyone permission to reprint this article making changes as necessary as long as it is not submitted as original work.This article was submitted (with minor changes) by attorneys and law school students as original work.

Have you ever  wondered  why people who are charged with a crime are treated as if they are guilty when we are supposed to be innocent until proven otherwise?

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.

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of how the justice system really works. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

  1. Kat
    Thank You for this, I'm so tired of people saying innocent until proven guilty - as if we are not entitled to an opinion and have to walk around with our months shut!

    Every time there is an article with a comment section regarding an Anonymous Poster vs (for instance) KC Anthony - it happens less frequently now then it did in the Fall of 2008 - but last weekend following the A's latest interviews, people were mainly just tired of hearing their ever changing fabrications of the events.

    Of course someone popped in with Blah Blah Blah... she's innocent until proven guilty - Wrong - if she is presumed innocent why is sitting in that jail cell? Her case has been to the grand jury - there is sufficient evidence to hold her for trial. Doesn't mean she is guilty as charged, but it means there is evidence that she is not innocent! Now the state has to prove her case to a jury of he peers. (Good GOD I hope she is peerless-they'll just have to do the best they can with what they have.)

    As you have famously said before - if you did it, you're guilty, no matter what.

    (((Hugs My Friend)))

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