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HELSTON: A reminder that you're innocent until proven guilty

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
January 30, 2015 - 7:57 AM

In Canada, you’re innocent until proven guilty whether charged with murder or stealing an ice cream cone.

Sure, you might not go to court over a frozen milk product, but the point is, no matter how heinous or mild the crime, the principle remains the same: an allegation is not a conviction.

We brought you a story this week about a pair of nurses whose car was struck downtown Vernon. One nurse died, and another’s life changed forever. Police are investigating the other driver for impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm. If we let our emotions take charge, it’s easy to pick a good guy and a bad guy in this heartbreaking accident. But we have to remember, as much as we are tempted to blame someone for the tragedy, charges have not been laid. When, or if, they are, the accused is still innocent until she receives a fair trial.

In another recent story, we saw animal cruelty charges laid against an Armstrong man. Our comments section quickly filled with voices condemning the man’s actions. Again, I remind you, this man is innocent until proven guilty. When contacted by, the man accused said he had his own side of the story to tell, but was advised by his lawyer not to say anything that could later be used against him. Before he even gets a trial, he’s been ordered by the court to disperse his 100 horses. They’ll be long gone if, down the road, he’s found not guilty.

Animals in distress and lives lost are terrible, horrible, unnecessary things, but for true justice to prevail, we need to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt of one’s guilt. It’s a high bar, and one that has saved more than one individual from being punished for a crime they did not commit. Put in their place, we would all want the right of innocence until proven guilty. 

It can be hard keeping an open mind in the midst of a wrongdoing, but as reporters, and as people, we have to base our opinions on facts, not emotions. In the end, only our country’s judges, who are well equipped for the job, decide who’s guilty and who is not.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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