In a Jewish Court the trial did not usually commence with the preferring of a charge. The procedure was that the accused being before the Court, witnesses gave evidence of the matters complained of; if at least two witnesses corroborated each other about the facts which disclosed the commission of an offence, a charge was then preferred; the offence disclosed by their depositions became the offence which the Court had to try; presumably it would be the task of the Scribes to formulate the charge indicated by the evidence and to make a note thereof in the Court records. Until this was done there was no formal accusation or charge before the Court and the prisoner was not only deemed to be innocent but unaccused. In Jewish law, as in English law, there was a presumption of innocence, and the onus of proving the guilt of the accused always rested on those making the allegation. If the evidence of the "prosecution" failed to disclose an offence, then, as in English law, so in Jewish law, there was no case for the accused to answer; no one was entitled to question the accused in Court for the purpose of making him incriminate himself, and so make up for the shortcomings of the prosecution; in such cases the accused was "not guilty" and entitled to be discharged forthwith.

 

from page 47, The Trial of Jesus Christ