If a person lives in a country where citizens are innocent until proven guilty, do they commit a sin only when they are officially found guilty or at the moment the potentially criminal activity occurs?

In a country like the USA, the concept of innocent until proven guilty is an integral part of the justice system, and if people were jailed for every crime they commit according to the letter of the law, practically everyone would be in jail. Even the US government knows that completely following every law on the books is practically impossible, it would seem unfair if even these minor crimes constituted a sin.

There are certain situations where a person is in a legal grey area, is such a situation, it seems that such an action could not be counted as a sin, at least until he is found guilty in court.

I am a Ben Noah considering how this applies to our obligation of dinim after reading a citation in my curriculum "When the Noahides were commanded in dinim, they were obligated to create a legal order... The judges must draw up rules of equity that shall be appropriate for their country and for the customs in which such things are handled... Whatever is established as law in this way is the law and carries biblical authority. Anyone who breaks this [established] law violates the Torah." (Rabbi Yaakov of Anatol in his Malmud, cited in Margolios HaYam, 56b:9, according to my curriculum, [Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim Noachide Laws]), however I feel its a relevant question regarding Jews aswell, I hope my question is clear, Thank you for your time.

  • 2
    You're talking about the Noahide commandment to have, and follow, laws necessary for the upkeep of civil society? And at that point you are assuming that such commandment does not require one to go at 55mph when the flow of traffic is 61mph, right? That does not mean the law is "it's okay to murder someone as long as you don't get caught." It's "behave like a good, law-abiding citizen." (And vote. And don't try to get out of jury duty. And answer the census if they reach out to you.)
    – Shalom
    Dec 14 '21 at 21:31
  • 3
    Just because the society doesn't punish someone until they can prove them guilty beyond reasonable doubt doesn't mean one is "following the law." A jury may pronounce someone "not guilty", not that they are "righteous."
    – Shalom
    Dec 14 '21 at 21:32
  • 1
    "Innocent until proven guilty" is about the standard of proof needed to punish someone. You're asking about things on the books that are barely ever enforced. Or the gray zone now, e.g. federal law still bans marijuana, but in Colorado someone could smoke it right in front of the police station (or FBI office) without punishment, but it's not a question of "proof." I don't think there's a quick and simple answer here, and would advise a Noahide to consult with a competent rabbi. Otherwise, everyone in the US (other than foreign diplomats) should err on the side of following US law!
    – Shalom
    Dec 15 '21 at 1:19
  • 1
    It's a fair question, but some of the language employed here sounds like (or could be mis-read as) someone is trying to justify all sorts of horrible behaviors, "because I won't get caught" or "because that next guy over there got away with it." A friend asked his rabbi about buying alcohol for minors -- "the state doesn't consistently prosecute for that!" Funny, there are a whole lot of kosher-keeping Jews in Otisville Correctional Institute who thought the same thing.
    – Shalom
    Dec 15 '21 at 1:21
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    I’m not familiar with the particular curriculum you mention, but the commandment to have judges and laws is a requirement for the society, and it may even have something akin to biblical authority, but that doesn’t necessarily mean every law becomes a biblical sin. That’s quite a jump
    – Chatzkel
    Dec 15 '21 at 1:42

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