Presumption of Innocence

Presumption of Innocence

Must be at least 150 word count each. Choose 2 of the following topics below:

1. Write about Void for Vagueness with examples

2. Write about Presumption of Innocence with examples

3. Write about Trial by Jury with examples

This assignment is used as replies to my classmates

I’m going to try and send you the link of their paper and then you can go from there. That way you will know exactly how to reply.

Hoping it will add some input to what they are saying in their papers

Here is one paper. Had to just copy and paste

The presumption of innocence is not a new concept, it has been around for thousands of years (Stumer, 2010) however with America’s fight for equality in the 1960’s it hasn’t been a principle that has applied for all peoples in all walks of life. The presumption of innocence is one of the foundational beliefs in the judicial system in America, it demands that a defendant in a case not be treated different or assumed guilty until they have been convicted in a court of law (Stumer, 2010). This basic American principle is sometimes taken for granted in the 21st century, because the abuse of this principle is not as observed as in previous centuries. Looking back on the history of America, there are a few obvious cases that stand out regarding the presumption of innocence.

The Emmet Till case, which involved the accusation that a young black kid whistled at a white woman in the 1950’s and was tortured and beaten to death by a group of white men didn’t even reach the judicial system. The young white lady that had accused Emmet Till of whistling recanted her accusation against Emmet Till in 2017. The cases against OJ Simpson, Casey Anthony, and Harvey Weinstein are all highly publicized and the public opinion of the defendants were severe and not in-line with the American judicial system. A recent case that is bringing national attention, is the child molestation, and child sex trial being brought up against singer Robert Kelly (RKelly). Due to the sensitive and horrific details in the case, the public has already deemed the singer guilty, and removed his music from main stream media sites, and stations.

The presumption of innocence relies on the American judicial systems trial system involving burden of proof. These two concepts work hand in hand during the trial process. Once a defendant is arrested, although he is presumed innocent, they are held with or without bail (travel restrictions, and daily check-ins) until the court date. During the actual trial it becomes the responsibility of the prosecutors to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence principle is for the benefit of the American people, it prevents undue convictions and regulates the ability of the prosecutor to bias the jury, or the courtroom.


Stumer, A. (2010). Presumption of innocence: Evidential and human rights perspectives (Criminal law library, v. 8). Oxford: Hart. (2010).

Here is the other paper

The right to a jury trial and due process belongs to any citizen who has been accused of a crime and that right is protected by the 4th and 6th amendments of the Constitution respectfully. People are also protected by the 8th amendment which brings about rules against cruel and unusual punishments when it comes to criminal and civil sentencing guidelines. One issue that the Supreme Court always stayed far away from were cases that involved state and federal courts rulings that allowed judges to increase sentences from the normal guidelines prescribed to the courts. Cases that judges felt went beyond the normal scope of what any crime should. The Supreme Court found it best to let the state and federal court judges work out the sentencing procedures and punishment lengths. With the endless possibilities of unfairness in sentencing lurking from judges acting in this fashion, it’s easy to assume that something like this would become a problem. Forcing the highest court in the land to settle an issue that it tried its best to stay out of for decades.

In 2000, Apprendi vs New Jersey became the first case to tackle the question of increased sentencing by judges. In the case, Charles Apprendi unprovokingly fired multiple rounds from his rifle at the home of a black family that had moved into his neighborhood. When arrested he stated he shot at them because he didn’t want black people living in his area. The State of New Jersey charged Mr. Apprendi with possessing a weapon for unlawful purposes which carries a minimum sentence of 5 years. But, in New Jersey that sentence could be enhanced by another 10 -20 years, if the prosecution also proves it was a crime out of hate. Giving the judge the option of adding to the sentence given he felt that the prosecution met the qualifications to justify a hate crime. He did, and the Judge added on an increased sentence.

Apprendi argument to the Supreme Court is that the prosecution needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was a hate crime to a jury not to judges. Raise a question challenging his 6th amendment right to trial by juror. So, the decision of the court was to either force sitting jurors to decide beyond a reasonable doubt if there is enough evidence at trial to prove a person’s motives or actions in a crime were the result of racial discriminations, before any authorized increased sentencing from a judge could take place. Or keep it as is, allowing judges to decide increased sentencing at their discretion.

Taking into consideration the responsibilities that the 6th amendment holds for a person’s right to a jury trial it would make sense that the Supreme Court would rule the way they did. The Supreme Court’s ruling stated, “Other than the fact of prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” (Samaha pg. 84, 2017

This decision to leave it to the jury, resulted in several more 5-4 decisions in similar cases being ruled upon in the Supreme Court from 2000-2005. Two of particular interest were Blakely v. Washington (2004) and U.S v. Booker (2005) Both of these cases the Supreme Court applied the Apprendi rule too. The Booker case however, began to raise questions about the Apprendi rule when Justice Ginsberg broke rank and joined the minority. Instead of just keeping the Apprendi rule guidelines they would instead use the Apprendi rules, but, also go back to judges reviewing the current sentencing guidelines first and then ruling. With any increased sentencing being overseen by an advisory and still fully aware that the Court of Appeals will rule on it also.

The protections afforded to citizens under the 4th, 6th, and 8th amendments are in place to preserve a person’s right to liberty and freedom. Liberties and freedoms that can be taken away at the hands of unjust sentencing practices. The 6th amendment provides the right to trial by jury and is an important part of the justice system. It gives a person the right to confront their accuser and fight for their freedom. Jurors need to see a case in its entirety to determine all the elements involved in a crime. If a crime is race related then it should be up to the jury to decide if race played a part. With laws in place to allow judges to take advantage of handing out increased penalties for crimes that meet gang related or racial enhanced criteria, then it should be jurors who make the call if beyond a reasonable the burden of proof to increase the penalty has been met.


Samaha, J. (2017). Criminal Law Custom Version 2e (12th ed., p. 84). Boston, MA: Cengage.

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