A presumption is a conclusion of fact that is assumed to be true unless and until that presumption is proven to not be true. The linchpin of the great American criminal jurisprudence is that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A statutory presumption occurs when a proven or basic fact is established, some other fact must be deemed true, or presumed. Presumptions call for conclusions that are only possible based on the evidence presented. Theoretically, the jury should reach the same conclusion in the absence of the presumed fact. In a criminal prosecution, they function as shortcuts by allowing the prosecution to establish an element of a crime by establishing other facts.
Statutory presumptions are not available upon request in every criminal case. They are precluded in cases when the underlying facts needed to support the presumed fact are not present.
In most cases, they are used expressly for the sake of manipulating the burden of proof. A presumption shifts the burden of proof to the opposing party. In criminal cases, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. It is the prosecution’s responsibility to provide evidence against the defendant to find them guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. If a statutory presumption has been approved for the case, the burden of proof will fall on the defendant. They will be required to present all the facts, evidence, and elements to prove they are not guilty.
Many cases that involve the use of a statutory presumption deal with guns and drugs. For example, it may be presumed that all occupants of a vehicle knowingly possess a controlled substance found in the vehicle, if it was not concealed on a person. In another scenario, there may be a presumption that all occupants knowingly possess a controlled substance when it is found in plain sight in a room.
Presumptions are justified by the claim that when the underlying inferential facts are proven to exist, the ultimate fact is likely true. The problem with the use of presumptions is that claims are not based on empirical evidence, but rather hunches or guesses.
If you are facing criminal charges, you need an experienced defense attorney who is familiar with the various statutory presumptions that may apply in your criminal case. The Law Office of Stephan Jacob Siegel is proud to provide you with skilled criminal defense that will thoroughly investigate all aspects of your criminal case to make sure that you are able to put forward your best possible defense. To arrange for a consultation to discuss your case and learn how my experience can help you, call me today at 718-575-3900.