Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Do you have the right to presumption of innocence?

Do you have the right to presumption of innocence? Until recently in Arizona, if you found yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to have killed someone in self-defense, the answer was "no." Justfication defenses, such as self-defense, were considered affirmative defenses, meaning that the burden of proof was on the defendant to prove show that the preponderance of evidence indicates that he was justified.

The "Castle Doctrine" bill, explained in detail by libertarian David Hardy, changed that. Signed into law earlier this year, it requires prosecutors, once a justification defense has been presented, to disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Since whether or not one has committed murder or manslaughter, which are crimes, and not justifiable homicide, which is not, can hinge on the matter of justification, this is merely a removal of a loophole that could be used by the State to circumvent our right under the Constitution and as free people to be innocent until proven guilty.

The question of whether or not those who acted in self-defense also have this right will soon be going before the Arizona Supreme Court; according to the Tucson Citizen two divisions of the Arizona Court of Appeals have ruled oppositely on the matter.

While our legislature, where the fringe is the mainstream everyday, is usually only good for entertainment, on occasion it gets a no-brainer, like the Castle Doctrine, right. Simple justice demands that the Supreme Court not uphold a cutoff date on one's right to true presumption of innocence.

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