What is the Presumption of Innocence?

Across the centuries, the United States of America has worked diligently to create the most balanced criminal justice system in the world. Everyone who is accused of a crime is seen as deserving a fair chance in and out of court to explain their side of the situation, if they wish, and protect their rights. Indeed, everyone is meant to be seen as “innocent until proven guilty.” This foundation is known as the presumption of innocence, which is presumed to exist thanks to the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Being innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law is more than a nice sentiment, though. The presumption of innocence also establishes a high, demanding bar for the prosecution and the government to hurdle in pursuit of a conviction. The prosecution must provide convincing and thorough evidence in each criminal case that the defendant is not innocent. In Virginia, the evidence must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Furthermore, the work of the defendant is somewhat lightened due to the presumption of innocence. A defendant does not need to make an effort to prove they are “not guilty” because they are innocent unless proven otherwise. To this end, it is sometimes possible and best for a defendant to do and say nothing in their criminal defense case, as the burden of proof rests entirely on the prosecution. If the state or federal government cannot prove guilt, then the case must end without conviction.

Preserving the Presumption of Innocence

In far too many criminal defense cases, the presumption of innocence starts to fall away or be overlooked. For example, most anyone accused of a sex crime is viewed as outright guilty in the eyes of society, and this bias can unfortunately infect the courtroom. The defendant can be put into an uphill legal battle when it is meant to be fair and balanced.

My name is Andrew J. Cornick, and I am a Fredericksburg criminal defense attorney who is dedicated to protecting the rights of my clients and preserving the presumption of innocence. As a former prosecutor with years of experience, I know how the other side of the courtroom operates, and how some prosecutions rely mostly on the unjust presumption of guilt to make a case. With me and my legal team on your side, you can be confident in your chances of a bright future, even when accused of serious crimes.

Call my firm at (540) 827-4446 to schedule a free consultation.

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