Innocent Until Proven Guilty; Does it apply in Ohio DUI Prosecutions?
In America you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. “Presumption of innocence” serves to emphasize that the prosecution has the obligation to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt and that the accused bears no burden of proof. This presumption is ancient, dating back to the Old Testament. In Genesis 18:23-32, it states, “Abraham drew near, and said, “Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it? What if ten are found there? The Lord said, “I will not destroy it for the ten’s sake.” Latin legal principle provided that ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies). Relying on this tradition Maimonides, a twelfth-century legal theorist looked to Exodus 23:7, “the innocent and righteous slay thou not” and argued against the use of presumptive evidence, concluding, “it is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.” In the De Laudibus Legum Angliae, c. 1470, Sir John Fortescue argues that “one would much rather that twenty guilty person should escape the punishment of death, than that one innocent person should be condemned and suffer capitally.” In 1678, Lord Hale says that , “In some cases presumptive evidence goes far to prove a person guilty, though there be no express proof of the fact to be committed by him, but then it must be very warily pressed, for it is better five guilty persons should escape unpunished than one innocent person should die.” He further observes: “And thus the reasons stand on both sides, and though these seem to be stronger than the former, yet in a case of this moment it is safest to hold that in practice, which hath least doubt and danger, quod dubitas, ne faceris.” The principle and the concomitant prosecutor’s duty was referred to in the English Common Law and the “golden thread” by Lord Sankey, who wrote in Woomington v. DPP  AC 462, “throughout the web of the English criminal law one golden thread is always to be seen – that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner’s guilt subject to what I have already said as to the defense of insanity and subject to any statutory exception…”
The principle of presumed innocence was accepted in America even before we were a county. On Ocotber 3, 1692, Increase Mather relied upon Fortescue to decry the Salem Witch Trials writing, “It were better that Ten Suspected Witches should escape, than that the Innocent Person should be Condemned.” Benjamin Franklin, writing in a letter of 1785 stated it as, “it is better [one hundred] guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer. The words “Innocent Until Proven Guilty” do not appear in the United States Constitution but many provisions rely upon the proposition. The concept is embodied in several provisions of the Constitution, however, such as the right to remain silent and the right to a jury and the 14th Amendment. The presumption of innocence principle supports the practice of releasing criminal defendants from jail prior to trial. Based upon this premise, the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that excessive bail shall not be required, but it is widely accepted that governments have the right to detain through trial a defendant of a serious crime who is a flight risk or poses a danger to the public. In such cases the presumption of innocence is largely theoretical but deserving of, and receiving, special constitutional protection.
In 1895, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a decision in the case Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432; 15 S. Ct. 394, traced the presumption of innocence, past England, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, to Deuteronomy. The Coffin case stands for the proposition that at the request of a defendant, a court must not only instruct on the prosecution’s burden of proof–that a defendant cannot be convicted unless the government has proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt–but also must instruct on the presumption of innocence–by informing the jury that a defendant is presumed innocent. The Court stated, “The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.” Much later in Taylor v. Kentucky, 436 U.S. 478, 98 S.Ct. 1930, 56 L.Ed.2d 468 (1978), the United States Supreme Court described the presumption of the innocence of a criminal defendant as an assumption of innocence that is indulged in the absence of contrary evidence. It is not considered evidence of the defendant’s innocence, and it does not require that a mandatory inference favorable to the defendant be drawn from any facts in evidence. The Supreme Court has required, under some circumstances, a court should issue jury instructions on the presumption of innocence in addition to instructions on the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. A presumption of innocence instruction may be required if the jury is in danger of convicting the defendant on the basis of extraneous considerations rather than the facts of the case.
The rights associated with the presumption of innocence have become a staple of modern democratic ideals and have been included in several important international legal codes and constitutions, including:
- The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe says (art. 6.2): “Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”. This convention has been adopted by treaty and is binding on all Council of Europe members. Currently (and in any foreseeable expansion of the EU) every country member of the European Union is also member to the Council of Europe, so this stands for EU members as a matter of course. Nevertheless, this assertion is iterated verbatim in Article 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
- In Canada, section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: “Any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal”.
- In the South African Constitution, section 35(3)(h) of the Bill of Rights states: “Every accused person has a right to a fair trial, which includes the right to be presumed innocent, to remain silent, and not to testify during the proceedings.”
- In France, article 9 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, of constitutional value, says “Everyone is supposed innocent until having been declared guilty.” and the preliminary article of the code of criminal procedure says “any suspected or prosecuted person is presumed to be innocent until their guilt has been established”. The jurors’ oath reiterates this assertion.
- Although the Constitution of the United States does not cite it explicitly, presumption of innocence is widely held to follow from the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments. See also Coffin v. United States and In re Winship.
- In the 1988 Brazilian constitution, article 5, section LVII states that “no one shall be considered guilty before the issuing of a final and unappealable penal sentence”.
- The Constitution of Russia, in article 49, states that “Everyone charged with a crime shall be considered not guilty until his or her guilt has been proven in conformity with the federal law and has been established by the valid sentence of a court of law”. It also states that “The defendant shall not be obliged to prove his or her innocence” and “Any reasonable doubt shall be interpreted in favor of the defendant”.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11, states: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defence. (from Wikipedia, original link HERE).
[T]o interpret the effectiveness of the ALS to be dependent on the Registrar receiving a sworn report is not only contrary to the express statutory language but would also serve to make the suspension process inefficient and impractical. If the ALS does not take effect immediately upon refusal to submit to the chemical test or upon the chemical test indicating a prohibited concentration of alcohol, then presumably a person’s driver’s license would remain effective until the Registrar processed the form.
Ohio, like South Dakota in Neville, has adopted an implied consent statute, which is outlined in R.C. 4511.191. The consent statute spells out a bargain between drivers and the state. In exchange for the use of the roads within the state ofOhio, drivers consent to have their breath tested if a police officer has reason to believe the driver is intoxicated. Because an OVI suspect is already deemed to have consented to the breath test, “no impermissible coercion is involved when the suspect refuses to submit to take the test.” Neville, 459 U.S. at 562.
DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in Dayton and throughout the Miami Valley. He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671. For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter@DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook, www.facebook.com/daytondui and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube. You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.
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