Reasonable Doubt: You Do Not Have to Prove Your Innocence
When you are facing criminal charges for something you did not do, including drug charges , property crimes , or any other type of illegal activity, it can be very overwhelming. You will likely feel enormous pressure to find some way to prove that you did not or could not commit the offense for which you have been charged. The challenge, of course, often lies in the fact that proving you did not do something can be extremely difficult. However, thanks to a long history of legal precedent that has become entrenched in U.S. laws, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution and its case must exceed all reasonable doubt.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Dating back centuries, a defendant is presumed to be innocent until he or she is proven guilty. However, for many years in the United States, courts were at odds over what was necessary to reach the standard of “proven guilty.” Some cases would utilize the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which is still in use in civil court, which simply means that the defendant more likely than not committed the act of which he or she was accused.
In 1970, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the due process clauses in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution afforded defendants more protection . The Courts decision on the case In Re Winship, clearly established that the government must prove each element of its case against a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. In practice, this means that if a even a single point of fact in the case creates a reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge or jury, the defendant cannot be convicted.
Creating Reasonable Doubt
At both the state and federal levels , prosecutors recognize the burden of proof in making their case. You, as the defendant, are not required to do anything to prove you innocence. Of course, an apathetic approach or declining to present an argument against the government’s claims can leave a jury with little choice but to accept that version as established fact.
A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you build a case that disputes the claims made by prosecutors. Again, you do not have to prove your side any further than creating reasonable doubt in regard to the government’s account of what took place.
If you have been charged with a crime that you did not commit, it is imperative to contact a Joliet criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Jack L. Zaremba is a former prosecutor who fully understands the burden of proof and how to responsibly create the reasonable doubt necessary to succeed in your case. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free consultation today.