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. #41
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    In theory. On paper.

    In practical reality? Not so much.
    what do you mean by "practical reality"?... how is a person that is found not guilty not innocent in "practical reality"?

  2. #42
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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.
    The only thing I'd like to see changed is that juries be allowed to find Not Guilty by reason of self-defense. In the MZ case, the reason Zimmerman was found not guilty was because the state couldn't prove it wasn't self-defense. If he had pled "Not Guilty by Reason of Self Defense" and then been found Not Guilty by reason of Self Defense then, I think the defendant should be immune from civil lawsuit. That would be an improvement in our laws, in my opinion.
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  3. #43
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    The people have spoken.

    The status quo of a flawed system... a system that doesn't really work as advertised... is it.
    The thing is, prosecutors seldom (if ever) pursue cases where there is actual no-doubt-about-it physical evidence that the "accused" is innocent. For example, if he's got a room full of 50 people at a party in another city saying he was there (and maybe other evidence backing that up as well like a store, gas, or airline receipt) then he obviously didn't commit the crime and will not be charged in the first place. A time-stamped video is also good proof of whereabouts at a particular time. An accused rapist who doesn't match the DNA in the semen found. That's why crimes are investigated, to uncover the facts of the case before trial.
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  4. #44
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrilla View Post
    what do you mean by "practical reality"?... how is a person that is found not guilty not innocent in "practical reality"?
    All "not guilty" means is that guilt was not proven. Guilt not being proven =/= innocence. Even many people in this thread who do not agree with my proposal agree with that point.


    Quote Originally Posted by MaggieD View Post
    The only thing I'd like to see changed is that juries be allowed to find Not Guilty by reason of self-defense. In the MZ case, the reason Zimmerman was found not guilty was because the state couldn't prove it wasn't self-defense. If he had pled "Not Guilty by Reason of Self Defense" and then been found Not Guilty by reason of Self Defense then, I think the defendant should be immune from civil lawsuit. That would be an improvement in our laws, in my opinion.
    Interesting. Id be open to considering that.
    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.

  5. #45
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoSurveyor View Post
    The thing is, prosecutors seldom (if ever) pursue cases where there is actual no-doubt-about-it physical evidence that the "accused" is innocent. For example, if he's got a room full of 50 people at a party in another city saying he was there (and maybe other evidence backing that up as well like a store, gas, or airline receipt) then he obviously didn't commit the crime and will not be charged in the first place. A time-stamped video is also good proof of whereabouts at a particular time. An accused rapist who doesn't match the DNA in the semen found. That's why crimes are investigated, to uncover the facts of the case before trial.
    I'm not so sure. Police often coerce false confessions, and prosecutors often run with that as their only evidence. Yes, that is technically evidence, but I do not find it implausible at all that in the past juries have felt the accused was indeed completely innocent... because the prosecution's case was so bad and transparent... but could only render a not guilty verdict as that was their only option.
    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.

  6. #46
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    All "not guilty" means is that guilt was not proven. Guilt not being proven =/= innocence. Even many people in this thread who do not agree with my proposal agree with that point.
    legally speaking, "not guilty" is the same as "innocent"... it's pretty basic.

    there's only one way not to be found "innocent"... and that way is the state proving you're guilty.
    to add in an actual "innocent" verdict is unnecessary and diminishes the "not guilty" verdict.

  7. #47
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrilla View Post
    legally speaking, "not guilty" is the same as "innocent"... it's pretty basic.

    there's only one way not to be found "innocent"... and that way is the state proving you're guilty.
    to add in an actual "innocent" verdict is unnecessary and diminishes the "not guilty" verdict.
    Then why not simply change the wording from "not guilty" to "innocent"? That would clarify things, and be more precise, wouldn't it?

    The reason we don't, or didn't, is because the wording was carefully chosen as it means something different from innocent.
    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.

  8. #48
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    Then why not simply change the wording from "not guilty" to "innocent"? That would clarify things, and be more precise, wouldn't it?

    The reason we don't, or didn't, is because the wording was carefully chosen as it means something different from innocent.

    no, it was chosen due to the obligation the state possesses when it comes to criminal proceedings... it's an accurate representation of that obligation.

    the states obligation is prove guilt ( innocence is presumed).... so we have "guilty" or "not guilty"as the logical choices.

  9. #49
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    Re: Should "innocent" be an option as a verdict in criminal trials?

    such a question either demonstrates a complete ignorance of the presumption of innocence that serves as the foundation of our criminal justice system or displays complete contempt for that foundation



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

    Quote Originally Posted by TurtleDude View Post
    such a question either demonstrates a complete ignorance of the presumption of innocence that serves as the foundation of our criminal justice system or displays complete contempt for that foundation
    I was thinking the same thing and I'm a logger not a lawyer.

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