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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

2.2-1  Presumption of Innocence

Revised to December 1, 2007 (modified November 6, 2014)

In this case, as in all criminal prosecutions, the defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  This presumption of innocence was with this defendant when (he/she) was first presented for trial in this case.  It continues with (him/her) throughout this trial, unless and until such time as all evidence produced here in the orderly conduct of the case, considered in the light of these instructions of law, and deliberated upon by you in the jury room, satisfies you beyond a reasonable doubt that (he/she) is guilty.  The presumption of innocence applies individually to each crime charged and it may be overcome as to each specific crime only after the state introduces evidence that establishes the defendant's guilt as to each crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt.1

If and when the presumption of innocence has been overcome by evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime charged, then it is the sworn duty of the jury to enforce the law and to render a guilty verdict.2

1 See State v. Gerald W., 103 Conn. App. 784, 790, cert. denied, 284 Conn. 933 (2007).

2 See State v. DelValle, 250 Conn. 466, 473 n.10 (1999) (encouraging use of this language to deter jury nullification).


"The presumption of innocence is not evidence . . . but instead is a way of describing the prosecution's duty to produce evidence of guilt and to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt."  State v. Gerald W., 103 Conn. App. 784, 789 (2007).  The presumption of innocence and the reasonable doubt standard are "inextricably intertwined."  Id., 789-90 n.4; see also State v. Jackson, 283 Conn. 111, 116 (2007).

"[I]n a criminal case the term [presumption of innocence] does convey a special and perhaps useful hint over and above the other form of the rule about the burden of proof, in that it cautions the jury to put away from their minds all the suspicion that arises from the arrest, the indictment, and the arraignment, and to reach their conclusion solely from the legal evidence adduced. In other words, the rule about burden of proof requires the prosecution by evidence to convince the jury of the accused's guilt; while the presumption of innocence, too, requires this, but conveys for the jury a special and additional caution (which is perhaps only an implied corollary to the other) to consider, in the material for their belief, nothing but the evidence, i.e., no surmises based on the present situation of the accused." (Emphasis in original; internal quotation marks omitted.)  State v. Dickson, 150 Conn. App. 637, 654, cert. granted on other grounds, 314 Conn. 913 (2014) (rejecting defendant's request to use "presumed to be not guilty" rather than "presumed to be innocent").


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