Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rights of the accused

ART. III, Sec. 14
“No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard  by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of  the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witness face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf.  However, after arraignment, trial may proceed, notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.”

Sec. 14, Par. 1 - reiterates the due process clause in Sec. 1, Art. III. This is an emphasis of the due process in criminal cases.

All persons charged criminally are presumed innocent unless proven otherwise by proof beyond reasonable doubt. 

Regardless of the strength of the defenses, the presumption of innocence will always be in the favor of the accused.  There is  a principle in Evidence which says that the prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence and not on the weakness of the defense.

Proof beyond reasonable doubt to rebut the presumption of innocence does not mean absolute certainty, but simply moral certainty.  If the judge is convinced after weighing both sides of the controversy and he is morally certain that the accused is guilty, then he should be convicted. 
But if there remains a moral question/doubt, and the doubt is reasonable, the judge must acquit the accused, not because he is not guilty but because he is presumed innocent.

This is the reason why some cases were acquitted and people  got so angry to our judicial system...

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