Permissive Presumption Law and Legal Definition

A permissive presumption is one which allows, but does not require the finder of fact to infer the fact which is an element of the crime from the basic fact that has been proven. A permissive presumption will generally be upheld unless there is no rational way that the finder of fact could make the connection permitted by the inference. It is also called as permissive inference

Permissive presumptions are not really presumptions at all. Instead, they are simply inferences drawn from evidence. They do not shift the prosecution's burden of production, and the jury is not required to abide by them. An instruction about a permissive presumption is really an instructed inference.

In People v. Hester, 131 Ill. 2d 91 (Ill. 1989), the court observed that “A permissive presumption is one where the fact finder is free to accept or reject the suggested presumption. It places no burden on the defendant and affects the application of the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard only if, under the facts of the case, there is no rational way the trier could make the connection permitted by the inference. The validity of a permissive presumption is subject to a less stringent test: there must be a rational connection between the facts proved and the facts presumed, and the ultimate fact must be "more likely than not to flow" from the basic fact. The inference must be supported by corroborating evidence of guilt; if there is no corroborating evidence, the leap from the proved fact to the presumed element must still be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. To determine whether a presumption contained in a jury instruction is mandatory or permissive, a court must look at the words contained in the instruction. Whether a defendant has been accorded her constitutional rights depends upon the way in which a reasonable juror could have interpreted the instruction.”