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The presumption of innocence: a deflationary account

Picinali, Federico (2020) The presumption of innocence: a deflationary account. Modern Law Review. ISSN 0026-7961

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1468-2230.12594


The presumption of innocence is unanimously considered a fundamental requirement for criminal justice. This notwithstanding, the meaning of the presumption is hotly disputed in the legal scholarship. This article contributes to the debate, advancing a novel theory of the meaning as well as of the justification of the presumption of innocence. It assesses critically the components of the presumption that are discussed and defended in the literature; and it shows that the meaning of the presumption should be unloaded of most of these components. The upshot is a markedly deflationary account, according to which the presumption of innocence consists exclusively of a rule on the allocation of the burden of proof. This rule is justified by appealing to the principle of inertia in argumentation, rather than – as it generally occurs – to the value of protecting the innocent from conviction.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2020 12:57
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 06:48

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