When someone commits an unlawful act, one may or may not feel guilty. Two types of the latter are known: legal and factual. Legal guilt can be defined as the fact justified to be true by law (Reichel, 2018). On the other hand, factual guilt is an apparent situation that has not yet been confirmed by the criminal justice system (Konecky, 2020). For a person to be formally accused of a specific crime in court, one should either admit committing an illegal act, a process known as the presumption of guilt, which then must be validated jurisdictionally (Reichel, 2018). However, if the latter situation does not occur, factual guilt must be proven true through the investigation and legally verified.
The concept of legal and factual guilt can be better explained with examples. For instance, if Police Officer sees and catches a felon who runs to a victim, grabs the purse, and tries to escape, this scenario is described as factual guilt (Reichel, 2018). In this case, the criminal was caught performing an unlawful act. However, the thief is not liable until one pleads guilty and is proven to be involved in daylight robbery by the court (Reichel, 2018). Another example is when a person accidentally kills one’s neighbor during a serious argument regarding space use between their farms. In this scenario, the factual murderer has the right to remain silent and not to admit one’s guilt. Even if that individual confesses, he remains a suspect during the investigation and a defendant in a court case until the judge releases the official decision about one’s legal guilt. Indeed, the legal system must investigate the case because sometimes individuals admit guilt to cover for someone (Huntersure, 2021). Therefore, any wrongdoer is innocent until declared legally guilty, even if factual guilt is evident.
Huntersure. (2021). How can lawyer manage a client they believe is guilty? Web.
Konecky, M. (2020). How can criminal defense lawyer defend someone who’s guilty? Web.
Reichel, P. L. (2018). Comparative criminal justice systems: A topical approach (7th ed.). Pearson.