You Have The Presumption of Innocence at Trial, But What Does It Look Like?

May 17, 2015

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

While it is common knowledge that anyone accused of a crime has the right to be presumed innocent of the charges brought against them by the State of Indiana, few know how a jury will be told about that presumption and what that presumption will look like.

As is common in all trials, the presumption of innocence comes in the form of an instruction read to the jury both at the beginning and at the end of a jury trial. However, while the Indiana Supreme Court has promulgated pattern instructions for use by trial court judges, these instructions can vary from court to court and judge to judge. Recently, in McCowan v. State of Indiana, the Indiana Supreme Court settled on simple and direct language that should be given to juries as an instruction on the presumption of innocence. Judges are to inform juries that: “The presumption of innocence continues in favor of the defendant throughout the trial. You should fit the evidence to the presumption that the defendant is innocent if you can reasonable do so.” While the instruction is generally favorable, the Indiana Supreme Court also noted – interestingly – that it is the requirement of accused individuals to request this instruction at trial. As such, experienced defense counsel should be mindful of the important of requesting this instruction when a criminal case goes to trial.

Contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP today if you have been accused of a crime. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.