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Jun 26, 2023Jun 26 at 2:55pmManage Discussion Entry

Criminal Procedure and Scripture

The scriptures have profoundly influenced my understanding of criminal procedures and the foundational principles of our modern legal system. They have enriched my perspective on criminal justice, emphasizing the significance of multiple witnesses, cross-examination, and physical evidence and underscoring the importance of just outcomes. For example, critical principles from Deuteronomy 19:15 and 17:6 have emphasized the requirement for multiple witnesses in a criminal conviction, reaffirming the concept of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ in our current law. The wisdom on cross-examination found in Proverbs 18:17 and Deuteronomy 19:16–19 has further deepened my belief in its crucial role in the legal process. Deuteronomy 19:16–19, for instance, presents a scenario where a “malicious witness” levels an accusation against someone. As a result, both parties are required to “stand before the LORD in the presence of the priests and the judges (New International Version, 2011, Deuteronomy 19:16–19). The judges are then tasked with accepting the accuser’s testimony and conducting a “thorough investigation.” This scenario presents a perfect example of cross-examination in the scripture.

Additionally, scriptures dealing with physical evidence, including Deuteronomy 22:13–18 and Exodus 22:12–13, reaffirm the indispensable role of physical evidence in criminal procedures. They underscore the importance of tangible, verifiable proof in establishing guilt or innocence, strengthening my belief in the vital role of forensic and physical evidence in our legal framework (Fischer, 2020). For instance, Deuteronomy 22:13–18 discusses a case where a husband accuses his wife of not being a virgin. The outcome of this dispute hinges on physical evidence: “proof of her virginity’ to resolve the case.

Our current legal system aligns fundamentally with biblical principles on the themes of witnesses, cross-examination, and physical evidence. Like the scriptural rule in Deuteronomy 19:15 and 17:6, today’s law prioritizes the importance of multiple witnesses in criminal cases. Singular testimony often is not enough for conviction; systems like the U.S. commonly require additional evidence or numerous witnesses, particularly for severe crimes, ensuring guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, contemporary legal procedures uphold the practice of cross-examination, mirroring wisdom from Proverbs 18:17 and Deuteronomy 19:16-19. This practice is integral to unearthing the truth, allowing defendants to challenge witness credibility. Perjury laws also impose harsh penalties for false testimonies, safeguarding trial integrity. Moreover, as emphasized in Deuteronomy 22:13-18 and Exodus 22:12-14, physical evidence remains a cornerstone of modern law. Courts rely heavily on tangible proof, including DNA tests, forensics, and surveillance footage, to confirm or refute allegations, ensuring justice based on objective, incontrovertible evidence.

Our criminal justice system could evolve in several ways to better align with biblical principles. The focus on multiple witnesses suggests increased reliance on corroborative evidence, going beyond the existing ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard to further minimize wrongful convictions. Reliance on a single witness’s testimony could be discouraged in high-stakes cases. While already pivotal, cross-examination could be intensified, with courts facilitating more in-depth analyses of issues. This approach ensures comprehensive scrutiny, promoting fairness and impartiality (Fischer, 2020). In all cases, stricter demands for tangible, verifiable proof could further bolster physical evidence’s importance. This enhancement emphasizes the role of forensic science, backing accusations with solid physical evidence. It suggests a more significant investment in forensic science for its practical application in courtrooms. Regarding restitution and false testimony’s seriousness, our legal system could refocus on rehabilitation and restorative justice, moving beyond a predominantly punitive outlook. The system might commit more resources to victim recovery and offender rehabilitation. Given the biblical view on false testimony, harsher penalties could be introduced to discourage justice perversion.


New International Version. (2011). Biblica. https://www.biblica.com/niv-bible/

Fischer, K. J. (2020). Biblical Principles of Government and Criminal Justice. Liberty University Journal of Statesmanship & Public Policy1(1), 3.

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