What is A Presumption of Innocence?

If you are facing any kind of criminal charge, you should know the term presumption of innocence and why it is crucial to your case. The presumption of innocence is a cardinal principle of the justice system, stating that a defendant’s guilt must be proven by the prosecution, and the defendant must be deemed innocent until they’re proven guilty. It ensures that accused individuals will only be punished by the court according to the law and only when the State of Georgia has proven the defendant’s guilt.

While all criminal defendants are innocent until they have been proven guilty, not all of them will be freed until the end of the trial. Typically, defendants are arrested and held in custody until posting bail. However, take note that defendants who have committed serious felonies (usually violent offenses), multiple crimes, or are flight risks may be denied bail.

What A Presumption of Innocence Means For You

If you have been accused of committing a crime, a presumption of innocence means that it is the prosecution’s job to prove you violated the law beyond a reasonable doubt. This means they must prove each element of your alleged crime instead of the burden being placed on you to prove your innocence.

In criminal trials, the term beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard of proof, which is the highest standard that we have in our justice system, that must be satisfied by the prosecution before you can be deemed guilty of a crime. Depending on the case, a judge or jury will decide whether or not the prosecution has proven your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Many people think that criminal defendants go to court to prove their innocence. However, because of the presumption of innocence, unless the prosecution succeeds in establishing your guilt beyond reasonable doubt, you are innocent under the eyes of the law. You are not obligated to prove your innocence if the prosecution fails to satisfy this burden. In fact, defense strategies are focused more on destabilizing the prosecution’s case to make it harder for them to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Other Legal Protections Connected With The Presumption of Innocence

Besides being protected by the presumption of innocence, there are other legal protections afforded by the Constitution to defendants, including:

  • The Fifth Amendment – Your right to remain silent and protect yourself from self-incrimination
  • The Sixth Amendment – Your right to have legal representation and a trial by jury

However, keep in mind that jury trials are not applicable to all criminal charges. Certain petty crimes don’t come with the right to jury trials.

Seek Legal Assistance From Our Seasoned Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys

All defendants must be presumed innocent until they’re proven guilty. On the other hand, people are quick to condemn and judge an alleged criminal without knowing the facts of the case. Unfortunately, most people believe that if someone was charged with an offense, they must have committed the crime they are accused of.

This is where legal guidance from the Georgia criminal defense attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & MacFarland comes in. From start to finish, our Georgia criminal defense attorneys will ensure that your legal rights are protected. Learn how we can help by scheduling your case review online or by phone at 770-887-1209.