Those accused of criminal offenses have a series of fundamental rights. One of the most important is the presumption of innocence.
Essentially, the presumption of innocence amounts to a person remaining innocent until they have been proven guilty. Anything to the contrary jeopardizes the principle of a fair criminal trial.
Protection from self-incrimination
It falls on the state to prove that an accused is guilty of a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If this standard is not satisfied, then a person should not be convicted. As it is up to the state to prove their case, a person cannot be compelled to give evidence against themselves. Furthermore, if they exercise their right to remain silent, this should not be taken as a sign of guilt.
Other than in exceptional circumstances, a person should not be tried for the same crime twice. This means that if a person faces trial and is subsequently found not guilty, that ought to be the end of the matter. Criminal trials should also take place in as timely a manner as is practicable and it is up to the state to adequately prepare relevant evidence on the first time of asking. Those accused are protected from being placed on trial for the same crime on numerous occasions.
The right to liberty
Only in extreme circumstances should any restrictions be placed upon a citizen’s fundamental right to liberty. It is important to remember that people facing criminal trials have not yet been convicted, and significant numbers of them will walk free with their legal innocence remaining intact.
The presumption of innocence applies to everyone and makes up a fundamental component of criminal law. If you have been accused of a criminal offense or believe that your rights have been violated, there are legal options open to you.