Actual Innocence

Definition

An absence of facts required for conviction under a criminal statute.  For example, a defendant accused of robbery who never illegally took anyone's property is actually innocent of the charge.   

Overview

Defendants often claim actual innocence when appealing criminal convictions.  To prove actual innocence, the defendant must submit additional evidence that undermines the court's confidence in the verdict reached by the trier of fact.  Appellate rules normally require that this evidence must not have been available to the defendant at the time of the trial.

Caselaw

"A finding of actual innocence, as that term has come to be used in federal habeas corpus jurisprudence, is not the equivalent of a finding of not guilty by a jury or by a court in a bench trial.” Lambert v. Blackwell, 134 F.3d 506, 509 (3d Cir. 1997).

House v. Bell 311 F.3d 767; 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 23930; 2002 FED App. 0406P (6th Cir.)

See also