The Importance of “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”
The presumption of innocence is one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system. The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” means that a suspect—a person accused of a crime —is presumed to be innocent until he or she has been found guilty of the crime by a court with appropriate jurisdiction. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect did, in fact, break the law.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution assures citizens that no one shall be "deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." The Fourteenth Amendment applies this principle to all of the U.S states. Assuming that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty is a substantial element of due process.
Due process refers to the legal procedure in which a suspect of a crime is either found guilty or not guilty. No one should be assumed to be guilty just because they were accused of a crime. Interestingly, “due process” is the only dictum that appears in the Constitution twice. This is because due process is vitally important to protecting our rights as citizens. If we did not have a guarantee of due process in the Constitution, the protections that are specified in the Bill of Rights would be meaningless.
Due process of law is a constitutional guarantee that prevents governments from treating citizens in an unfair or abusive manner. In practice, it means that courts must uphold procedural standards that protect peoples’ personal freedom. The concept of due process can be traced back to King John’s Magna Carta in the early 13th century. The Magna Carta proclaimed that no one should be seized, dispossessed of his or her property, or harmed except “by the law of the land.” This meant that the government could not simply act outside the bounds of the law. The other purpose of due process is to ensure that society is only punishing those who have been proven to be guilty of a crime and allowing the innocent to go free.
If you are facing criminal charges or you believe your right to due process has not been upheld, it is crucial that you have a qualified legal professional to help you fight for your rights. Contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and explore your available options. Call 815-740-4025 for a free, confidential consultation with Attorney Jack L. Zaremba today.