View Poll Results: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

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  • Yes, "innocent" would be a welcome addition as an option.

    11 28.95%
  • No, but we should treat "not guilty" as "innocent".

    7 18.42%
  • No, the current system works fine. ('Splain yerself, Lucy)

    18 47.37%
  • Something else.

    2 5.26%
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Thread: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

  1. #21
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cephus View Post
    It's not about certainty, it's about doubt in the prosecution case.
    And that's part of it too. You might think it's possible that they did it, but you're not 100% sure. Like OJ - I think he probably did it, but if I was on that jury there's certainly some reason to doubt it.


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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    We presently have "guilty" and "not guilty" as verdict options. "Not guilty" is often treated as "we still think you're guilty, we just didn't present a good enough case to convict you". Victims and/or their families often follow up a not guilty verdict with a civil lawsuit seeking financial damages, as the level of proof is lower.

    As we have seen with so many exonerations in recent years, factually innocent people get convicted too often, so it stands to reason that there are more that are wrongly accused but beat the rap and are found not guilty... yet the "not guilty" still may face legal battles in the form of civil lawsuits, civil rights violation charges, and so on.

    Should we add a third option of "innocent" for juries and/or judges to consider and use? Because it is now undeniable that factually innocent people are sometimes accused and charged, this would allow juries and/or judges to state, "We see no credible evidence whatsoever that this person is guilty, and as such, deem them to be factually innocent. They are hereby set free, and cannot face any further prosecution whatsoever for this particular crime." This would eliminate civil suits, civil rights violation charges, etc. A person who is deemed innocent shouldn't have to face a never-ending legal gauntlet simply because a family is emotionally upset (albeit understandably, but still...), or the DoJ is grandstanding.

    Would it be perfect? Of course not. Human involvement eliminates any concept of perfection. Would it be an improvement and a step toward fairness (which justice is supposed to be about)? Yes, I believe so.



    No, but I would support adding 'Not Proven.

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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    No, the current system works fine. ('Splain yerself, Lucy)

    If guilty, you go to jail... if not guilty, you don't. How would innocent change this? It wouldn't.

  4. #24
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by rocket88 View Post
    Not necessarily. Legal culpability is based on whether you are legally responsible for your actions. That's what the insanity defense is about, and that's what the Zimmerman verdict is about -- you may have done something, but legally you aren't responsible.
    May not be discernible in every scenario, but guilt vs innocence determines if they even were your actions.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    Why? How would adding "innocent" as an option upset anything?
    I assume with "Innocent" as an option, we'd still have the other two; "not guilty" and "guilty." Under our system we "presume innocence until proven guilty." A third option of in effect label the not guilty as "possibly guilty but we're not sure"; a label that will stigmatize them for the rest of their lives as well as help to define their legacy after they pass away.
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  6. #26
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Smeagol View Post
    I assume with "Innocent" as an option, we'd still have the other two; "not guilty" and "guilty." Under our system we "presume innocence until proven guilty." A third option of in effect label the not guilty as "possibly guilty but we're not sure"; a label that will stigmatize them for the rest of their lives as well as help to define their legacy after they pass away.
    "Not guilty" currently does just that. Not only are people still (potentially) subject to continued prosecution in the form of civil suits and DoJ civil rights violation charges, but they do indeed carry a stigma around for the rest of their lives... even if they are indeed factually innocent.

    Granted, "innocent" would not wholly stop the stigma, but it would help, and it would give a legal status to point to and help in future employment endeavors, etc.

    The idea is that "innocent" would be added as an option, and that the current two options would remain.
    Last edited by radcen; 07-22-13 at 06:20 PM.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

  7. #27
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Finding someone 'guilty' is being convinced of a claim.

    Finding someone 'not guilty' is being unconvinced of a claim.

    Finding someone 'innocent' is being convinced of an (absolute) negative, thus it would require shifting the burden of proof to the accused and executing a logically impossible task.

  8. #28
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    "Not guilty" would remain pretty much as it is now... the defendant may be guilty, but the burden of proof was not established.

    "Innocent" would be something like... not only has the burden of proof not been established, but we believe this case is ridiculous and don't buy the charges/accusations at all, hence "innocent".

    I do not believe "innocent" would be used often, but it would be a useful option to save some defendants from unnecessary additional prosecution. A factually innocent person... and they do exist... could be freed from after-the-fact political grandstanding such as civil rights violation charges, and so on.

    "Not guilty" could still leave open the potential for civil suits, etc.



    The civil suit should still be left open either way because a criminal jury does not hear the elements of a civil case, nor should they.

  9. #29
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisher View Post
    The civil suit should still be left open either way because a criminal jury does not hear the elements of a civil case, nor should they.
    Disagree. "Not guilty" would leave that open, as is now. "Innocent" would be a finding of "There was no crime, as far as this defendant is concerned." If there was no crime, there is nothing on which to base a civil suit or any other further actions.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

  10. #30
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by shrubnose View Post
    No, but I would support adding 'Not Proven.
    Which is exactly what "not guilty" is. The prosecution hasn't proven it's case.
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