One of the most valued concepts in a South Carolina courtroom is that you are innocent until a judge or jury finds you guilty due to proof that you did the crime. The presumption of innocence is sacred because it helps keep the legal system fair. However, this concept seems to only apply within the courtroom, at least in modern times.
There is a movement by the public to condemn people accused of a crime before they even go to trial, according to The Hill. In the court of public opinion, nobody is safe, and the consequences of a conviction by the people are high. Unfortunately, the public does not have to honor the presumption of innocence.
Generally, the court of public opinion only needs a report by the media to grab onto a story. The public does not need evidence, and if there is a suggestion of evidence, it does not require proof that it is accurate or valid. People will take what the media says as proof enough.
Thanks to the widespread use of social media, a news story breaks, and everyone has an opinion to share with others. People do not wait to hear testimony or see proof. If they feel a person is guilty, then he or she is guilty as far as they care. The opinion spreads like wildfire.
If you happen to be the victim of the court of public opinion, the consequences may be far-reaching. You could lose your job because of the negative attention. You may lose family and friends because of the portrayal of you and the situation. It could also damage your reputation. Even if a court of law later finds you innocent, the damage from the public remains.
So, while the court should always provide you with the presumption of innocence, it is not the only court you have to worry about. The court of public opinion may not be able to send you to prison, but it may still damage your life.