Help!: origin of 'innocent until proven guilty'!

Help me, please!
I need an answer soon for moot court! What is the origin of the phrase ‘innocent until proven guilty’? If I find it (or one of you great people finds it for me :slight_smile: ), I’ll look really smart! And I really don’t think it is in the constitution, because I’ve looked! Thank you so much, teeming millions!

I doubt that there is any single “origin” than can be cited for “innocent until proven guilty.” The presumption of innocence is an ancient concept, going back at least to classical antiquity, and its first expression is probably lost to prehistory. The concept does not appear in the Constitution or other organic documents simply because it was so deeply embedded in the Anglo-American legal tradition that it went without saying. Even the Magna Carta (1215) implies the concept without spelling it out. For example:

Even modern constitutions typically omit stating the presumption explicitly. You can certainly find judicial opinions and jury instructions that do mention the concept explicitly, but they are always referring to a settled principle that is centuries old, and thus shed little light on its “origin.”

No help on the origin of the concept, here, but a pet peeve. The correct expression is “presumed innocent until proven guilty.” Whether the accused is actually innocent or not is a question of objective fact. If you’ve murdered your aggravating neighbor, but haven’t been convicted yet, you’re not innocent - after all, you did the deed! But our legal system gives you the benefit of a presumption of your innocence, a presumption that’s subject to refutation by the prosecution.


I can’t find you anything worth a darn on the web, but try looking up the “Law of Nations” of the Roman Empire and I think you’ll find that it goes back to circa year one at least.