The Presumption of Innocence

The Presumption of Innocence

With the recent confirmation of the new Justice Kavanaugh, one has to wonder what happened to the presumption of innocence?  This is not a political issue, its an issue concerning the core of our criminal justice system

What is the Presumption of Innocence?

Most people have no idea what the presumption of innocence is, and unless you have sat on a jury deciding a criminal case, you may not understand it either.   In California, there are jury instructions that are read to the jury right after they hear all of the evidence (testimony) in a criminal case.  One of the most important jury instructions is Calcrim 220 which discusses the presumption of innocence and states the following:

“A defendant in a criminal case is presumed to be innocent. This presumption requires that the People prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Whenever I tell you the People must prove something,  I mean they must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The only time the presumption of innocence shifts to guilt is when the prosecution puts on enough evidence and testimony to prove the person charged is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Beyond a reasonable doubt is the HIGHEST BURDEN OF PROOF in our legal system! Calcrim 220 also explains this burden of proof:

“Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you with an abiding conviction that the charge is true. The evidence need not eliminate all possible doubt because everything in life is open to some possible or imaginary doubt.”
But what does this mean?  Many jurors who decide the fate of someone on trial for criminal conduct always have questions as to what this actually means.
presumption of innocence
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt requires a person to be found innocent if the jury has any doubt about his or her guilt that is based upon reason!  So applied to the Kavanaugh situation, he would have to be considered innocent unless a jury had no doubt about his guilt. Since there were no witnesses to back up Dr. Ford’s story, circumstantial evidence would be crucial in determining what really happened, if anything.  In California, there is another jury instruction that explains circumstantial evidence and what a jury is required to do if there are 2 reasonable interpretations of the evidence, one that points to innocence and the other to guilt – Calrim 224:
“If you can draw two or more reasonable conclusions from the circumstantial evidence, and one of those reasonable
conclusions points to innocence and another to guilt, you must accept the one that points to innocence.”
So if you believe Dr. Ford’s story is reasonable and points to guilt, but you also believe Kavanaugh’s story is reasonable and points to innocence, you would be required under California law to find him “not guilty” since the presumption of innocence would not have been overcome by a he said she said situation with no corroborating evidence.

If You Have Been Falsely Accused .. Get Help Now!

There are so many people that are falsely accused of crimes and are forced to defend their innocence.  Whether the false accusations are based upon a motive to lie or a case of mistaken identity, the assistance of a competent criminal lawyer is absolutely critical.  The criminal defense team at Kenney Legal Defense is here to help anyone who is falsely accused so call us today for a free consultation and quote for services at (855) 505-5588.