The jury in the Casey Anthony case may have reached the correct verdict due to lack of direct evidence, however, Casey Anthony has not been found “innocent” as some incorrectly have stated. There have been many individuals quoted in the media and even published here stating Ms. Anthony was found to be innocent. This is untrue.
In legal terms, there is no such thing as being found “innocent”. A defendant is either “guilty” or “not guilty”, and “not guilty” and “innocent” are not synonymous. The terms may be synonymous in every day life, but not in court. Courts are not set up to determine a defendant’s “innocence”, rather, the prosecution must convince a jury through evidence that the defendant committed the crime, and the defense must introduce reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt does not translate to innocence.
In order to be found “not guilty”, the jury must believe that the prosecution failed to show a direct link between the defendant’s actions and the resulting crime. Unfortunately for the prosecutors, direct evidence is not always available and they must rely solely upon whatever circumstantial evidence is available to them.
Of course, there always was a strong possibility that Casey Anthony could have been found guilty – many a defendant has been convicted on circumstantial evidence. If nothing else, this type of case demonstrates the very difficult task of the prosecutor. Unable to pull evidence out of thin air, they must work with what evidence is available to them and make a convincing case out of it. On the other hand, the defense, in trying to create reasonable doubt for the jury, has no burden by way of proving “innocence”.
Getting back to the original point, it is incorrect to say that Casey Anthony was declared “innocent”. This would be to say that the jury believed she in fact did not commit the crime. As we know, there was at least one juror who stated that the verdict in no way indicated a belief on their part that Ms. Anthony was innocent of the crime. The jury simply believed that the prosecution did not meet it’s burden of proof. With no direct evidence and no clear cause of death, prosecutors were unable to convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt. In such a circumstance, a jury will decide “not guilty” – never “innocent”, a term with no meaning or relevance in a court of law.