innocent until proven guiltyWhat is the presumption of innocence? Well, to start, it makes it difficult for the government to put innocent people in jail. This is because all people, despite being accused of a crime, legally are considered to be innocent until proven otherwise. That is why a trial takes place, to find out if the person being charged with a crime really should be convicted. To be found guilty, a prosecutor must work to convince the jury that the defendant is guilty. the defendants still is presumed to be innocent until declared guilty by the jury. If the jury believes the person  did not commit a crime, he or she goes free.

California Penal Code 1096

According to California Penal Code 1096, the presumption of innocence works as follows:

“ a defendant in a criminal action is presumed to be innocent until the contrary is proved, and in case of a reasonable doubt whether his or her guilt is satisfactorily shown, he or she is entitled to an acquittal, but the effect of this presumption is only to place upon the state the burden of proving him or her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Reasonable doubt is defined in Penal Code 1096 as follows: “It is not a mere possible doubt; because everything relating to human affairs is open to some possible or imaginary doubt.  It is that state of the case, which, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leaves the minds of jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge.”

Defending against a criminal charge

It is very beneficial for defense attorneys to rely on the fact that their clients are innocent until proven guilty. Because of the presumption of innocence, a defendant has the ability to remain silent, when being charged with a crime. It is not the defendant who has anything to prove. The prosecutor has to prove that the person charged really is guilty of a crime or crimes. Until proven otherwise, a person is not guilty in California in accordance with Penal Code 1096. The American legal system was founded on the idea that it is better to let a guilty man go free than convict an innocent man. This works in the favor of those being charged with crimes because the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The prosecution has the responsibility of collecting and presenting compelling evidence during a trial to prove guilt. If reasonable doubt remains, the person being accused is acquitted. A skilled defense attorney will work on behalf of his or her client to ensure reasonable doubt does remain and the person is found innocent.