1.02 Nature of Indictment; Presumption of Innocence

This criminal case has been brought by the United States government. I will sometimes refer to the government as the prosecution. The government is represented at this trial by an assistant United States attorney, [_________]. The defendant, [__________], is represented by [his/her] lawyer, [__________]. [Alternative: The defendant, [__________], has decided to represent [him/herself] and not use the services of a lawyer. [He/She] has a perfect right to do this. [His/Her] decision has no bearing on whether [he/she] is guilty or not guilty, and it should have no effect on your consideration of the case.]

[Defendant] has been charged by the government with violation of a federal law. [He/She] is charged with [e.g., having intentionally distributed heroin]. The charge against [defendant] is contained in the indictment. The indictment is simply the description of the charge against [defendant]; it is not evidence of anything. [Defendant] pleaded not guilty to the charge and denies committing the crime. [He/She] is presumed innocent and may not be found guilty by you unless all of you unanimously find that the government has proven [his/her] guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

[Addition for multi-defendant cases: The defendants are being tried together because the government has charged that they acted together in committing the crime of [__________]. But you will have to give separate consideration to the case against each defendant. Do not think of the defendants as a group.]


This instruction is derived from Federal Judicial Center Instruction 1.