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Original Sin


A discussion not worth linking to reminded me of an important point. Our courts do not declare anyone to be innocent. All a jury or judge can do is find someone to be “not guilty”.

The way our common mindset operates, being arrested taints a person’s reputation. An arrest may not lead to any formal charges, but the arrest is public record, and thanks to the internet, the taint is forever.

One who is formally charged suffers a stained reputation. Even if the court returns a verdict of not guilty, that person will not be regarded as possessing the same innocence of one who was not tried or never arrested.

If the arrest or charges are tested and found to be insubstantial, the tainted person may be exonerated. But even clearing one of accusation or blame will not restore the same innocence in our age of short attention spans and eternal online records.

If charges are dropped, the person is not exonerated. There then is no process by which a reputation is cleared. All we know for sure is that there was insufficient evidence for the prosecution to pursue a trial.

Once one is in “the system”, only god can provide absolution.


Through a lengthy and costly process, one can have a record expunged. This may not be clear offenses and charges from the interwebs, but police records will be clear.