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What Does “innocent until proven guilty” Mean?

what does innocent until proven guilty mean

You’ve heard the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” before. Maybe from a movie, TV show, in your own case, or even from this website. But what does “innocent until proven guilty” mean? Does it apply to all court cases and trials? Furthermore, what does it have to do with “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”? Most importantly, what does this phrase have to do with your case? We’ll answer all these questions, and more, below!

What Does “innocent until proven guilty” Mean?

First, as with all legal matters, let’s first define our terms. What does “innocent until proven guilty” even mean? In simple terms, it means that the court considers someone accused of a crime innocent of that crime unless the facts prove their guilt. For example, if Bill accuses Katie of stealing his sandwich, the legal system assumes Katie’s innocence until Bill can prove her guilt.

Consider the reverse: guilty until proven innocent. Bill accuses Katie of stealing his sandwich, and now Katie must prove her innocence. How could she even do that? What evidence could you give to prove you didn’t do something? It’s very hard and seems unfair. Why? Because proving guilt is proving a positive: you did this action. Meanwhile, proving innocence is proving a negative: you didn’t do this action. Trying to prove innocence would be like trying to prove you don’t exist. It’s much easier and more straightforward to prove a positive than a negative.

In Your Case

Second, what does this principle have to do with your case? It all comes down to what we call “the burden of proof.” Let’s say you tell your friend you can dunk a basketball. They reply, “Prove it!” Why? Because you made the claim. It would seem rather strange if your friend had to prove that you could dunk.

Similarly, in a criminal trial, the prosecution makes the claim (“The defendant committed this crime”). Therefore, they have to prove the guilt of the defendant. The defense does not have to prove the innocence of the defendant. Instead, they need to challenge and undermine the prosecution’s case. Additionally, they need to remind the jury not to judge the defendant before all the facts become clear. This is why you must look your best in court. You don’t want to give the jury any reason to judge you too early. The best attorneys know how to help their clients with this.

You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty with Mark Catanzaro

Finally, if you Googled “what does ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mean,” then you’re probably looking for a lawyer! Hire the best in the business: Mark Catanzaro! You can contact him here. Tune in next week when we’ll show how this relates to “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”!


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