Guilty Verdict

In a criminal court case, one of the possible outcomes is the jury coming to a guilty verdict. In this article, we’ll define the term “guilty verdict” and explain the process of reaching a verdict in criminal trials. 

Key Takeaways

  • A verdict is a jury’s conclusion on a case
  • A guilty verdict is when the jury finds the defendant guilty
  • Verdicts are one of the last steps of a criminal trial reached after both sides have made their arguments
  • The next steps of a criminal trial after the verdict is judgment and sentencing
  • If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, the defendant will be convicted and the judge will sentence them 

What Is a Guilty Verdict?

A verdict is a jury's findings or conclusions on the factual issues presented by a case. A guilty verdict is what it is called when a jury finds that the defendant is guilty of the offense they were charged with. 

The Criminal Trial Process

Verdicts are one of the last steps of the criminal trial process. It comes after both sides (the prosecution and the defense) have made their arguments and presented their evidence. Once they’ve heard all of the evidence, juries deliberate and come to a conclusion, also called their verdict. After the verdict, the next steps of a criminal trial are judgment and sentencing.  

Guilty Verdicts in Criminal Trials

After the jury reaches a decision, they notify the bailiff, who notifies the judge. Everybody then reconvenes in the courtroom for the decision to be announced by either the foreperson or the court clerk. The two possible verdicts in criminal cases are guilty or not guilty. 

After the verdict is announced, the lawyer for either side may poll the jury, meaning that they ask each juror one by one whether or not he or she agrees with the decision as announced. This is done to make sure that the verdict announced is the jury’s actual verdict. If the decision is read and accepted by the court, the jury is dismissed and the trial is over. 

When there is a guilty verdict, the defendant is convicted and the judge will sentence them. Sentencing can be carried out on the day of the trial or be deferred to a future date. The judge alone, not the jury, decides on the sentence. They consider the following factors as part of their decision:

  • The maximum sentence they can give for the crime
  • The levels of sentence in similar cases in the past
  • Any victim impact statements or reports

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