Posted by Bruce Kahl on July 19, 2003
In Reply to: "..innocent until proven guilty.." posted by janes_kid on July 19, 2003
: We often hear that the United States Constitution guarantees that an accused is "..innocent until proven guilty.." in a court of law. I have done a word by word search on a site that claims to present the complete text of the US Constitution and I cannot find the words "guilty" or "innocent". Are they in the Constitution? If not, where did the phrase "..innocent until proven guilty.." originate?
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law ..."
What this means, in plain terms, is that constitutionally you cannot be executed, imprisoned, or fined without the proper course of justice taking place.As you found out, due process, itself, is not defined in the constitution, but is universally recognized as meaning what we term as "a fair trial."
Going forward from there, a fair trial by a jury of one's peers requires that the jurors approach the case with the thought that the prosecution is required to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Since the trial begins with the prosecution not having introduced a single piece of evidence, it follows that a defendant must be innocent, until proven guilty.