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I watch the watchers
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This sorta came up in another forum....

Would it be true to say that in the American legal system, one is allowed to enter a plea of either Guilty or Not Guilty and that there is no such thing as a plea of Innocent? And would it be fair to say that a verdict is only returned to in the same form of the accused being found guilty or not guilty and that there is not a verdict, nor a proof, of innocent?
 

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Seasteading Aficionado
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That's correct, because of the choice of double negatives, you are never found innocent, you are actually found "not guilty."

So Guilty or Not Guilty are the choices.
 

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The American legal system does not judge a person's innocence, hence a finding of innocent does not fit. Innocent is the assumption and only a guilty verdict can change that assumption. A finding of not guilty merely represents that insufficient evidence of guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Proving innocence would be much more difficult and result in more false convictions hence the desire for a justice system that relies on proof of guilt instead of innocence.

For instance, as a single guy I am home alone more often then I would have an alibi for most nights. I own firearms that are shot regularly. On most nights, I have the capability to shoot someone and kill them without leaving the gun behind (or I could ditch the gun) and not have an alibi for the time of the shooting. If I was charged under a presumption of guilt system then I would have very little, if any, chance of proving that I didn't commit any murder on most nights of the year. Under the innocent until proven guilty system, however, it is almost impossible for me to be fairly convicted since I was in fact at home and the DA would have an exceptionally hard time trying to prove I committed any crime.
 
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