The Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II has pushed through some important reforms. E.g. strongly reducing death penalty or abolishing serfdom. His legal code (Josephina) was in many ways revolutionary, one of which should be the presumption of innocence.

I am writing this question because I need some source to backup this information.

  • Welcome to the site. You might give more background. Who is Joseph II? Presumably a king, what time, what country? If your Joseph II is the one I think it is, he was an unusually kind, "enlightened" ruler. This "color" would support a theory about why he "introduced presumption of innocence in his legal code," at a time when this would have been unusual. This has the makings of a good question, but needs to be fleshed out with more details.
    – Tom Au
    Mar 17, 2013 at 13:42
  • Thank you. I have found the answer while extending my question. I had to search in through some Czech theses.
    – user2036
    Mar 17, 2013 at 15:00
  • 2
    You are perhaps refering to the Josephina, not the Ferdinandae.
    – Drux
    Mar 17, 2013 at 15:09
  • I am indeed, thank you for the correction.
    – user2036
    Mar 17, 2013 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


The presumption of innocence was introduced by the law code from 1804. This law code was based on Joseph II's (Holy Roman Emperor) work.

Source: a book called "Birth modern Criminal Law on Territory Habsburg Monarchy and Criminal Law from of the year 1803", mentioned in this thesis (Czech): "Důležitou změnou oproti praxi minulých dob byla presumpce neviny, oproti presumpci viny.[119]" - http://is.muni.cz/th/215281/ff_m/diplomova_prace.txt

  • 1
    This was Joseph II, the son of Maria Theresa, an advocate of "enlightened despotism," right? That's what I needed to know to answer your question. But it seems that you've found the answer. +1.
    – Tom Au
    Mar 17, 2013 at 16:54

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