We think it prudent to reissue this piece due to the aggressive stance that some people have taken over recent criminal law matters of which Bosscher Lawyers are involved
The presumption of innocence is the cornerstone upon which our criminal justice system is founded. We have all heard the presumption of innocence expressed in the maxim “innocent until proven guilty”. I much prefer the maxim “innocent unless found guilty”.
The expression innocent until proven guilty has a connotation of inevitability about it. That inevitability works to erode the presumption.
With the explosion of social networking and the ease of access to news locally, nationally and internationally the community is exposed every day to a wealth of information and material which even as soon as five years ago was not available. One of the biggest issues encountered in the face of such ease of access is that the media is saturated with stories before the Police have concluded their investigations for example. The result is that, through no fault of the media, people have consumed only those facts which are revealed at a particular time and the danger is then that the community generally starts to work on that information to make decisions. This is where we witness the erosion of the presumption of innocence.
The news media should not be censored and should not be constrained – but people must keep in the forefront of their minds the fact that unless and until they know all of the facts and evidence in relation to a particular matter that they cannot possibly form a proper opinion on a reported criminal matter. The presumption of innocence must be protected closely.
The presumption of innocence operates to protect all of us.