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A Term Paper On The Comparasson Between Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vs. Guilty Until Proven Innocent, And The Role Of The Prosecutor In The American Judicaial System

1887 words - 8 pages

"Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offense, under national or international law, at the time it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offense was committed."[1] In plan language, a defendant should be considered innocent until it can be proved that he/she is guilty. If they are accused of a crime, he/she should always have the right to defend themselves. Nobody has the right to condemn a person and punish them for something they have not done. The purpose of this paper is to explore the long debated question of, "Does/Should the 'system' try to prove the defendant guilty?" This paper will visit theories of innocence until proven guilty vs. guilty until proven innocent. In the United States of America, an accused party is to be "presumed innocent until proven guilty." Notice that the word presumed stands out in that sentence. As per Webster's dictionary, the word presumed means: to take for granted as being true in the absence of proof to the contrary: (e.g. we presumed she was innocent).Even though the credo of the Untied States is stated as innocent until proven guilty, criminal defendants are undeniably presumed to be guilty, it is for this reason that they are arrested and kept in pre-trial detention or released on bail, bond, or their own recognizance before a trial. If there was no presumption of guilt on the prosecutor's part, there would be no indictment in the first place. Therefore our understanding of the notion that criminal defendants are "innocent until proven guilty" is false. It would be more accurate to say that "the fact that a person has been charged with a crime does not necessarily entail that the person is guilty of the crime." The original meaning of the construction "innocent until proven guilty" is that the burden of proof in criminal cases rests with the prosecutor. The presumption of innocence is defined as, "a hallowed principle of criminal law to the effect that the government has the burden of proving every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt and that the defendant has no burden to prove his innocence. It arises at the first stage of the criminal process but it is not a true presumption because the defendant is not required to come forward with proof of his innocence once evidence of guilt is introduced to avoid a directed verdict of guilty. Presumption of innocence succinctly conveys the principle that no person may be convicted of a crime unless the government carries the burden of proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but it does not mean that no significance at all may be attached to the indictment." [1]There is a necessity in the United States to have to...

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