Presumption of innocence

  Criminal law, crimes

The presumption of innocence It is a fundamental right that guarantees every person their innocence until proven otherwise. This is a criminal legal principle which establishes the innocence of a person as the norm.

 This right is enjoyed by every person who has been subjected to criminal proceedings and will have it until the contrary is declared through a final court ruling. The presumption of innocence exists until a judge issues a ruling final sentence where it is stated that a person is guilty of having committed a crime.

What is the presumption of innocence?

The presumption of innocence It is a right that every person accused of committing a crime has until they are convicted. Only that his guilt has been declared by a judge in a final sentence after a fair trial.

The regulation of the presumption of innocence It is found in the Spanish Constitution, Title I where the fundamental rights and duties are established. In Chapter II that corresponds to Rights and freedoms, Section 1 on fundamental rights and public freedoms.

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The presumption of innocence is also a right for all individuals in the European Union. This right is established in article 6.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This figure is recognized in different international regulations that deal with human rights. Among them are the following:

 Article 11.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights dated 1948.

Article 11.1 of the Organic Law of the Judiciary establishes the presumption of innocence indirectly.

Article 8.2 of the American Convention on Human Rights dated 1969. 

Article 7 b corresponding to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. This is found in the Banjul Charter, dated 1981.

This right guarantees every accused or investigated subject to criminal proceedings that they will be treated as if they were innocent. The right to presumption of innocence will be in force until a final sentence establishes the sentence. 

How does the presumption of innocence work in a criminal process?

The presumption of innocence in the criminal process is guaranteed and is protected by what is established in article 11.1 of the Organic Law of the Judiciary. This article aims to protect the presumption of innocence. 

This figure also has a double application in criminal proceedings, which are the following: 

In the criminal field, presumption of innocence It is a rule of treatment, because it establishes that the person investigated or prosecuted must be treated as if he were innocent. This treatment must be given throughout the criminal process and while there is no final sentence.

The presumption of innocence In the criminal sphere it is also applied as a standard of judgment. This is because the judge in criminal law starts from the presumption of innocence of the accused or investigated to begin the trial. Furthermore, the general rule is that the prosecution has as much evidence as possible to prove the guilt of the accused.

 The judge may consider the evidence in accordance with the principle of free evaluation of the evidence established in article 741.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law. But it can only assess evidence that allows exhausting or weakening the right to the presumption of innocence.

On the other hand, the jurisprudence in order to prevent violation of the right of presumption of innocence, decided to modify the terms. For this the term accused either defendant It was changed to being investigated or prosecuted.

These terms in the criminal field mean the same thing, but the aim is to avoid treating a person who has not been tried as guilty. This will also prevent the public from treating a person who has not yet been tried as guilty. 

How is the right to presumption of innocence violated?

The right to presumption of innocence It is violated when a person accused of having committed a crime or infraction is treated as guilty. This is done without having investigated the accused and without there being evidence to prove the veracity of the accusation.