-> ''"Now, here are some results from our phone-in poll: 95% of the people believe Homer Simpson is guilty. Of course, this is just a television poll which is not legally binding, unless Proposition 304 passes. And we all pray it will."''
-->-- '''Kent Brockman''', ''TheSimpsons -- "Homer Badman"''

Usually when a person's guilt can't be proven (or has not yet been proven or disproven) in a court of law, it is assumed that he or she is innocent. But in the court of public opinion it tends to be the exact opposite. The public (or even the authorities) are convinced you're guilty; they just don't have enough hard evidence to prove your guilt. Now this doesn't necessarily means the person in question ''is'' guilty mind you, It just means he/she has already been tried and convicted by public opinion. The public can either be right or dead wrong.

Whenever someone is placed in the dock accused of "Crimes Against Humanity", you can be pretty sure this trope is in full effect.

If the public is particularly displeased with a juridical decision, they might take the matter in their own hands. See WitchHunt and VigilanteMan, although the public does not necessarily have to be unjust and violent.

Usually combined with ReformedButRejected. See also NeverLiveItDown.

Administrivia/NoRealLifeExamplesPlease, though if you wish to read about that, TheOtherWiki has articles on the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_public_opinion court of public opinion]] and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_by_media trial by media]].
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:ComicBook]]
* One ''ComicBook/{{Diabolik}}'' had a character tried for the murder of her father and stealing a jewelled knife and acquitted for lack of evidence and a chance that Eva Kant (Diabolik's accomplice) could have done it while masked as her with LatexPerfection. But the public believes her guilty, and a VigilanteMan shoots her. Later the VigilanteMan is about to kill Diabolik for his many ''proven'' crimes... When he ''confesses that murder'': according to him, Eva had decided to gift the knife to Diabolik (who liked it) and was stealing it while masked as that character when the father caught her and was about to attack her from behind, and Diabolik, who had guessed what Eva was doing and decided to cover her, killed him. In the end, it's not known if Diabolik had really done it or was just buying himself time, and the VigilanteMan is shown tormented by the possibility he murdered an innocent.
** The very third issue of the series made a strange use of this trope with Diabolik's own trial: Diabolik ''had'' done everything he was convicted for and then some, but at the time [[ShroudedInMyth there was no evidence that Diabolik even]] ''[[ShroudedInMyth existed]]'', and it's made clear that Diabolik was convicted and sentenced to death purely because the public had already convicted him and wanted the King of Terror dead. This would end saving Diabolik's life years later: in the issue ''Stop the Guillotine'' an activist opposing the death sentence uses knowledge of this KangarooCourt to try and get the trial annulled with the intention of personally get Diabolik convicted and sentenced to life in jail, and the attempt, while failed, kept Diabolik away from the guillotine long enough for Eva to break him out.
*** To make even more clear that Diabolik had been convicted on non-existent evidence, there's the matter of Walter Dorian, [[IdenticalStranger a man identical to Diabolik]] whose identity was being used by the King of Terror: after being arrested, Diabolik admitted having murdered him, but not only this happened in a foreign country (something that Diabolik didn't specify), but, as pointed out by the activist, it later emerged that Walter Dorian had survived the assassination attempt, and had been kept imprisoned on trumped-up charges by a military junta until he escaped in the chaos of a revolution. By the time of ''Stop the Guillotine'', Diabolik had found out that Walter Dorian was still alive ''and'' killed him upon realizing that [[spoiler: [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge Dorian had killed two of his mentors]].]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:FanFic]]
* Some ''Franchise/HarryPotter'' fanfics where Sirius Black is acquitted have the Wizarding World believing he's guilty. One in particular has Sirius Black unable to gain custody of Harry until he found an old law stating orphans of wizarding parents cannot be raised by muggles for as long as a magical guardian remains available. The Minister was quite unhappy with this development but, having to uphold the law, couldn't prevent it.
* Played With in ''Fanfic/FirstTrySeries'', where Sakura's mother, Barako tries to get [[OriginalCharacter Tetsuo]], Kakashi and Naruto run out of Konoha for daring to stand up to her and taking her daughter on a months-long training trip. Danzo, Tetsuo's grandfather, takes offense and turns it around so that all of Konoha thinks Barako's a terrible parent.
* In ''Two Moons'', post-Duel Trixie is treated as ponysona non grata all over Equestria despite being officially pardoned by Celestia. Celestia actually has to save her from an angry mob right in the middle of Canterlot, and notes with extreme displeasure that ''the royal guards were just standing around and letting it happen''.
* Represented in ''FanFic/RedactionOfTheGoldenWitch'' by the ConspiracyTheorist Karl. He's convinced that the SoleSurvivor of [[VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry the Rokkenjima Incident]] ''must'' be reponsible, and all of his theories twist facts and speculation around to support that singular conclusion. He's far from the only Witch Hunter who feels that way.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:{{Film}}]]
* The whole point of ''Absence Of Malice'', in which an innocent man's entire life is ruined because an anonymous tipster's claim he's involved in a current murder case gets published in the newspapers.
* Somewhat {{Lampshaded}} in the film ''Film/StandByMe''. Chris Chambers admits to stealing the milk money, but was still irritated (though not terribly surprised) by the fact that people automatically assumed he took it solely because of who he was. What really hurt him, though, was that the teacher he returned it to took advantage of that fact and kept the money for herself.
* In ''Film/SecretWindow'', when Mort Rainey is eventually revealed to be [[spoiler: the killer, Sheriff Dave Newsome interrupts Mort's nonchalant casual conversation and bluntly says in a matter of fact tone something to the effect of "Both you and I know what you did. We can't find the bodies, But we'll find the bodies and we'll link you to them. And eventually put you away..]] And of course since he's [[spoiler:a split personality murderer]], Mort was completely confused by the sheriff's out of nowhere comment. Also the locals are completely freaked out by him. So much so the sheriff wanted him to stop coming into town at certain parts of the day. The implications are strong granted, But [[spoiler: the authorities still never found the bodies.]]
* Discussed in ''Film/SinCity'' where the powerful Roarke family [[VillainWithGoodPublicity can get enough public approval to not only get away with crimes]], but the citizens of Basin will gladly put an innocent man behind bars.
* ''Film/{{Fury 1936}}'' had a man arrested because "it seems he knows more than he lets on" about a kidnapping. GossipEvolution inflates it into everyone "knowing" he's the kidnapper, forming a Lynch mob and burning down his prison. He barely escapes and is definitely not happy...
* While this trope held true for [[spoiler:Yanni Yogi]] in his appearance in ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'', [[Film/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney the movie]] showed even more how hated he was after getting a Not Guilty verdict. When the judge gives his ruling, everyone in the courtroom buzzes angrily, instead of applauding or cheering him on. The very next scene shows him going home to find his house plastered in papers that call him a murderer and demand that he move out. [[spoiler:The harassment gets to be so bad that his wife is DrivenToSuicide.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* In the ''XWingSeries'', when Tycho is tried for the death of [[spoiler: Corran Horn]], pretty much everyone who didn't know him personally thought he did it. The New Republic trying him had to keep at least some of the public's sentiment in mind, since they had just taken the planet from the Empire, and many of the nonhumans were angry enough at the new government due to the plague that only affected nonhumans. It's stated that there were already grumblings that if Tycho hadn't been human he would already have been tried and convicted.
* Literature/HarryPotter oh so many times. The wizarding public changes their mind about whether Harry is the savior of their world or a spoiled celebrity more times than they change their robes.
** Also Frank Bryce from the opening chapter of ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'', who was nearly convicted for the murder of Voldemort's muggle family. The villagers continue to treat him with suspicion even after his name is cleared, as they have no idea what happened to the Riddles.
** Sirius Black is a partial example. While he was convicted (without a trial), his infamous reputation went well beyond the crime for which he was originally convicted. For example, Stan and Ernie of the Knight Bus believed him to be Voldemort's [[TheDragon right hand]] and an AxCrazy PsychoSupporter.
** In the case of Barty Crouch, Jr., it's implied that he was convicted on flimsy evidence because the public was crying for blood. [[spoiler:Subverted when it turns out [[TheUntwist he was guilty after all]].]] The movie decided not to bother making it ambiguous and [[spoiler:had him frothing at the mouth crazier than Bellatrix Lestrange herself]].
** Also mentioned by Ron when they find out Hagrid is half-giant: while any who know Hagrid know he'd be incapable of the mindless violence giants are known for, most people don't know Hagrid.
** Ludo Bagman inverted this in his trial - even though there was still some good evidence against him and he [[SmugSnake could well have been guilty]], he was also a popular Quidditch player and charismatic enough to quickly get the jury on his side. Before long, the trial stopped being about the charge of selling secrets to a Death Eater and started being about how fantastic Bagman had been against Turkey shortly prior.
* Tyrion Lannister of ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' always had a reputation of being a monster, despite the fact that he is one of the most honorable characters in the series, simply because of his outward appearance (An ugly dwarf, who eventually loses his nose). Every time he's at trial, everyone is ready to execute him unless defending him will somehow help their own agenda. Fortunately, Tyrion is very much aware of this, and has long since figured out how to use it to his advantage. [[spoiler:Eventually, however, it does make him snap.]]
* In Creator/HarlanEllison's short story "Hitler Painted Roses", souls go to Heaven or Hell based on how good people ''think'' they were. In the story, an {{Expy}} for Lizzie Borden, sentenced to hell because everyone ''knows'' she killed her parents, gets a chance to confront her lover, a clean upstanding pillar of the community who went to Heaven despite ''actually'' killing her parents.
* An unusual variant in ''Discworld/TheTruth'': when ''The Ankh-Morpork Times'' publishes evidence that Vetinari was entirely innocent of attempting to leave town with stolen funds, and was the victim of a nasty frame-up, the opinion of the average reader is given as "He got away with it, then. Of course, he's a very clever man." The unusual aspect is that they don't actually seem to ''care'' much either way. Of course, compared to the antics of many of Vetinari's predecessors in office[[note]]Lord Winder, whose rule up until the events of ''Discworld/NightWatch'' wasn't so much a ReignOfTerror as a ''Monsoon'' Of Terror, is implied to be fairly typical. Neither was his successor Lord Snapcase very much better[[/note]], allegedly stabbing a formerly trusted subordinate and absconding with as much of the treasury as you can carry barely merits a raised eyebrow.
* Invoked almost work for word by Atticus Finch in ''Literature/ToKillAMockingbird''. The public decided long before the trial that Tom Robinson, a black man, was guilty of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman, because this was Alabama in the 1930s.
* In the ''KnightAndRogueSeries'' because he's marked as a criminal Michael is an instant suspect when building start being burned down. He has an alibi all three times, but still gets chased by a mob twice before the real criminal is caught.
* In Creator/StephenKing's original book version of ''{{Carrie}}'', the after-the-fact articles and book snippets make it clear that, after the "Black Prom", [[SpoiledSweet Sue Snell]] and [[LovableJock Tommy Ross]] were blamed by the public and by investigators for driving Carrie [[BewareTheNiceOnes over the edge]], recast as an AlphaBitch and her JerkJock boyfriend so as to have an easy scapegoat.
* In the Shirley Jackson novel ''Literature/WeHaveAlwaysLivedInTheCastle'', Constance Blackwood is charged and acquitted for the crime of poisoning nearly her entire family with arsenic-laced sugar. She's acquitted, but the entire village ostracizes what's left of the family, with the children taunting Constance's younger sister Merricat about her deceased family every time she ventures out for food.
* The Literature/EncyclopediaBrown mystery "the Case of Sir Biscuit Shooter" involves a friend's uncle who had spent time in prison, but had gone straight and was now working in a circus. His role was a clown named Sir Godfrey Biscuit Shooter, who wore a VERY noisy "armor" made of pots and pans. Later, Sir Biscuit Shooter is accused of knocking out the star of the circus and stealing her money - all because [[ReformedButRejected he had been in prison]]. Many of the circus performers think Sir Biscuit Shooter is the guilty one. [[spoiler: Encyclopedia proves the thief was the bareback rider who wore soft slippers and was able to move stealthily. Sir Biscuit Shooter couldn't have pulled off the crime undetected as the clanking of his pots and pans would have given him away.]]
* In ''[[Literature/DoctrineOfLabyrinths Melusine]]'' the [[ShamedByAMob populace]] nearly stones Felix to death when Stephen [[ComeToGawk drags]] him through the Plaza del'Archimago on the way to his trial. Unfortunately, he's innocent.
* In ''TheKillerAngels'', General Garnett considers himself this due to Stonewall Jackson accusing him of cowardice and then dying before Garnett could defend his actions. Because of this, he feels that he has to win a major victory or die trying in order to redeem his honor, which is why he insists on going on Pickett's charge despite being too ill to walk. In the film adaptation, ''{{Gettysburg}}'', his final scene shows him riding straight towards a loaded cannon.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:LiveActionTV]]
* Talk shows like Jerry Springer or the Maury Povich show. Whenever a guest is accused of doing something wrong to his or her significant other, such as cheating with someone else, the crowd will always boo the suspect, sometimes even after the person is proved innocent. On top of this, if the show shows the couple got back together in a "Where Are They Now?" update segment, the audience will always boo the person that had broken the other's heart, even if the two of them are truly happy now.
* The ''Series/{{Highlander}}'' episode "An Innocent Man" is based on this trope.
* Nick Knight ran into it in an episode of ''Series/ForeverKnight'', both with the suspect he was investigating, and a past incident where [[GoodThingYouCanHeal he was hanged]] as a killer, even though he was innocent.
* A woman in one episode of {{Castle}} invoked this trope. She wanted to divorce her borderline-abusive famous athlete husband, but knew if she did the public would consider him the victim of "another trophy wife just looking for her share." If, however, she disappeared after they'd spent the night getting drunk on his boat, everyone would believe he'd killed her and his reputation would be ruined.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:NewspaperComics]]
* A fairly early storyline in ''ComicStrip/{{Pogo}}'' centered on Albert being accused of eating the Pup-Dog. One strip cut to a bunch of crotchety old lady... [[FunnyAnimal animals]]... on a porch talking about the news, all certain he was guilty. At the end Albert was found innocent when the Pup-Dog showed up from wherever it was he'd gotten off to. Cut back to the old ladies on the porch, ''positively incensed'' that Albert "got away with it" and bemoaning the "travesty o' justice" that had occurred. Even though ''the "victim" was very much alive and well.''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:VideoGames]]
* The ''VisualNovel/AceAttorney'' series displays this a few times for the people inside the courtroom who are convinced that the defendant or a particular witness is truly guilty, despite what the evidence or lack of evidence shows. The judge is also easily swayed by the opinions of the prosecution and is sometimes quick to hand down a guilty verdict due to said opinions.
** It also applies to Phoenix's childhood where he is accused of stealing lunch money from his fellow classmate, Miles Edgeworth. All the children point their fingers at Phoenix as the thief and even the teacher is convinced that Phoenix is guilty, despite no direct evidence. Only Edgeworth and Larry Butz stand up for Phoenix and convince the whole class that he is not the guilty party. [[spoiler: It was Larry Butz, of course.]]
** Played straight in ''Apollo Justice'' where [[spoiler: Phoenix meets Zak seven years after he escaped from his trial. Phoenix tells him that the public firmly believes that his partner, Valant, helped him escape during the trial and they also believe that he was the one who killed Magnifi, even though there's no evidence to support their claims. To put everything to rest and let the public believe what it wants, Zak writes a confession note saying that he "killed" Magnifi. This is all before days after Zak is legally declared dead after seven years since his vanishing act]].
** In the first game, the first few times Phoenix meets Detective Gumshoe, he is recognized as the lawyer who defended a murderer. He has to point out that his client was actually found not guilty. To be fair, Gumshoe is shown as a big scatterbrain, so it's most likely he just kept forgetting the outcome of that trial.
* The Tribunal system in ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' allows players to vote on a case as to whether or not the accused deserves to be punished. The players assigned to a case can review logs of the in-game chat and vital game stats, a supermajority is needed for actual punishment, and the worst punishments are subject to manual review by Riot Games staff (as are randomly chosen cases that don't warrant particularly strong punishment).
** Though according to [[ByTheBookCop the summoner's code]] celebrating a victory with [[UnsportsmanlikeGloating "GG easy noobs"]] deserves a ban. Also, any time a player just has a bad game there are people who will try to get them [[DisproportionateRetribution reported for intentionally feeding]]. The forums are rife with people who claim they got falsely banned, though it should be noted that they are ''usually'' [[BadLiar hiding something]].
* In the original campaign of ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'', Fenthick Moss is manipulated into assisting the BigBad of the first act, publicly supporting him while being unaware of his true intentions or eventual actions. By the time of the second act, he has been hanged to appease the masses, who demanded blood for what happened and believed Fenthick to be complicit in the plot, no matter how ignorant he was of it.
* The main plot of ''VideoGame/NancyDrew: Alibi in Ashes'' is how the titular character is framed for arson and falls victim to this trope. Even though she hasn't been convicted yet and had a stellar reputation beforehand, people are throwing rocks at her house and sending threatening notes [[VideoGameTime within a day]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''MonkeyDust's'' Paedofinder General sketch is a parody of this.
-->''"By the power invested in me by prurient wishful thinking, I pronounce you guilty- of PAEDOPHILIA!"''\\
''"By the power invested in me by a text vote on Sky news, I find you guilty- of PAEDOPHILIA!"''\\
''"By the power invested in me by some bloke I met in a pub, who knew for definite, I find your sort GUILTY of PAEDOPHILIA!"''
* In ''TheSimpsons'', Homer was accused of sexual harassment. The entire ''country'' decided he was guilty, based on nothing more than hearsay and an extremely biased - and clearly fake - news segment. The episode was meant as a satire of the current state of the media - which, sadly, hasn't improved since the episode first aired (in 1994!). The quote of the top of this page is from that episode.
** Homer himself immediately buys into the report made by the same show that slandered him about how Groundskeeper Willy (who saved Homer by coming forward with a video that happened to prove his innocence) is a perverted stalker and a looming threat to everyone in Springfield.
*** Funnily enough, Homer is RightForTheWrongReasons- he claims that he believes that Willy is a perverted stalker for the incredibly bad reason that the television is claiming it, rather than the far better one- Wily had ''flat-out confessed'' to it earlier when he was telling Homer that he had a tape that could prove his innocence, since he explained the tape by saying that his hobby is spying on couples having intimate moments and recording them- in other words, he ''is'' a perverted stalker.
**** "''But every single Scotsman does it!''"
* The ''WesternAnimation/{{Beetlejuice}}'' cartoon had this happen to Beetlejuice himself, accused of scamming the city for donations. The donations ''were'' stolen, but this was [[NotMeThisTime a rare time when he was being honest]]. Naturally, when public opinion was said to turn against him, [[VisualPun it took the form of a huge angry monster]]. When Beetlejuice tried proclaiming his innocence, Lydia reminded him that when it's public opinion, "facts don't matter" to it. In fact, this instance is almost a subversion, since Beetlejuice has already pulled so much crap (and, in fact, he originally intended to scam the city) in the Neitherworld that it's a lot easier to see just ''why'' the public automatically thinks he's guilty.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'': When the heads of a boy scout group were taken to court for discriminating against gays, the judge, when about to announce the verdict, said it was based on public opinion.
[[/folder]]
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