When many people get accused of a crime, their first thought is that they have to clear their name by going to court and proving that they’re innocent. They want to show that they did not commit the crime. They think it’s their obligation, now that they’ve been accused.
It’s a natural reaction, and you do want to clear your name, but this mindset is backward. You do not have to prove that you are innocent. Instead, the prosecution has to prove that you are guilty. This is the basic principle of being “innocent until proven guilty,” or the presumption of innocence. The court has to assume that everyone who walks through the door did nothing wrong, only changing that opinion if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they did commit a crime.
This is, in part, why you have things like the Fifth Amendment and the right to remain silent. If you had to prove you were innocent, remaining silent would be the last thing you’d want to do. You’d have to argue your innocence. However, since they have to prove you are guilty, and you have nothing to prove, the right to remain silent allows you to keep from saying anything that would incriminate yourself.
It’s very important to think about criminal charges correctly. The court of public opinion often isn’t very forgiving, assuming guilt quickly. Don’t buy into this common myth. That’s not how it works. Make sure you know what rights you have after getting arrested and what legal steps you can take.