Presumption of Innocence: Innocent…until proven guilty


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In 2018, it began with a shocking trial that generated controversy in Spain: the trial of "The pack”, and, in this simultaneous way, culminated another judicial process full of many nuances and that has not left anyone indifferent, that of the death of Laura Luelmo.

Without referring to value judgments or personal criteria, it is necessary to show some aspects of a term that, thanks to this type of scandalous case, has been misrepresented to a great extent and that should never be lost sight of again: the presumption of innocence.

Presumption of Innocence: Innocent...until proven guilty
Presumption of Innocence: Innocent…until proven guilty

Regulation of the presumption of innocence

In the first place, it should not be neglected that mention is being made of a Fundamental Right typified in the Constitution of Spain (article 24). Said article establishes the following:

1. All individuals have the right to receive effective protection from the courts and judges in the exercise of their legal interests and rights. In this sense, under no circumstances can there be a defenseless scenario.

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2. In the same way, all people have the right to the ordinary Judge defined by law. In addition, they should be allowed to have the assistance of a lawyer and due defense. On the other hand, the right to a public trial must not be repressed without undue delay and with all the guarantees.

Finally, the right to use evidence mechanisms for their defense must be recognized, not to plead guilty, not to testify against them and to the presumption of innocence.

The law moderates the scenarios in which, due to professional secrecy or relationship, there is no obligation to appear in apparently criminal actions.

In simpler words and using a rather traditional saying, “you are innocent until proven guilty”. In this sense, translating this into legal terms, until a judge issues a final sentence that ensures that an individual is guilty of committing a crime, it is not possible to anticipate the facts.

Violation of the right to the presumption of innocence

Unfortunately, in today's times, it is increasingly simple to give perceptions or opinions about a fact without being duly informed. Without a doubt, this has increased thanks to the existence of social networks and the media.

All of this fulfills the function of squandering what has been established over many years of work, which is nothing other than the rule of law.

What we allude to with this is that there are a series of judicial, legislative and legal methods. That is, the judges and criminal proceedings, who are the ones who must take charge of judging a subject and that, in no way, the rest of the citizens can carry out this act.

On the other hand, it should be made clear that in the Criminal law from Spain the burden of proof corresponds to the plaintiff. That is, it corresponds to the complainant or plaintiff. As well as, to the Public Prosecutor's Office in the case of semi-public or public crimes. The latter are the ones who must be in charge of demonstrating that the defendant is guilty of the acts that are awarded to him.

In other words, under no circumstances can it be taken for granted that an individual is going to be punished in court, since it must be the accusing party who is in charge of proving this.

In fact, the scenario may occur in which an allegedly guilty party is acquitted of a criminal proceeding because the accusing party has not been able to gather sufficient evidence to prove the defendant's guilt.


It is also essential to consider that there are a series of conditions that must be met explicitly so that the presumption of innocence cannot be undermined. Specifically, there are three requirements by the jurisprudence:

1. First of all, there must be the absence of subjective disbelief stemming from prior relationships between the victim and the accused. That is, any link between the accuser and accused that could suppose a scene of enmity or revenge.

2.      There must be credibility in the testimony of the victim. In the event that the victim makes statements that are inconsistent or that are not true, and that they also persist over time. In this scenario it will be quite complex for the accusation to be maintained. This condition is also applicable to witnesses, in the event that they represent an important part of the defense or the prosecution.

3.      That the testimony of the passive subject is supported by various objective elements. The simple action of establishing a complaint before a fact does not make the person denounced responsible. In simpler terms, the word of one person is not worth more than another when being considered in a criminal proceeding.

While it is true that these requirements are not mutually exclusive, if they are fundamental when trying to prove the innocence or guilt of the accused.

In the event that they are not met, it will be very difficult to prove that the presumption of innocence of the accused has been flawed. Obviously, there are countless methods to disprove the presumption of innocence of an individual. However, these three requirements must always be taken into consideration.


As has been mentioned throughout this text, it is always best to take into account the Fundamental Law. This, whenever a process is carried out to defend the client's interests, regardless of whether he is the victim or the defendant. This, since losing sight of the presumption of innocence will be making a serious mistake that can have quite detrimental consequences for the outcome of the criminal process.

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