Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...
, a verdict
is the formal finding of fact made by a jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...
on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge. The term, from the Latin veredictum
, literally means "to say the truth" and is derived from Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....
, from Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....
: a compound of ver
("true," from the Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...
) and dit
("speech," from the Latin dictum
, the neuter
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...
past participle of dīcere
, to say).
In a criminal case
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...
, the verdict, which may be either "not guilty" or "guilty"—except in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...
where the verdict of "not proven
Not proven is a verdict available to a court in Scotland.Under Scots law, a criminal trial may end in one of three verdicts: one of conviction and two of acquittal ....
" is also available—is handed down by the jury. Different counts in the same case may have different verdicts.
A verdict of guilty in a criminal case is generally followed by a judgment
A judgment , in a legal context, is synonymous with the formal decision made by a court following a lawsuit. At the same time the court may also make a range of court orders, such as imposing a sentence upon a guilty defendant in a criminal matter, or providing a remedy for the plaintiff in a civil...
of conviction rendered by the judge, which in turn be followed by sentencing
In law, a sentence forms the final explicit act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. The sentence can generally involve a decree of imprisonment, a fine and/or other punishments against a defendant convicted of a crime...
In U.S. legal nomenclature, the verdict is the finding of the jury on the questions of fact submitted to it. Once the court (the judge) receives the verdict, the judge enters judgment on the verdict. The judgment of the court is the final order in the case. If the defendant is found guilty, he can choose to appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....
the case to the local Court of Appeals.
A compromise verdict is a "verdict which is reached only by the surrender of conscientious convictions upon one material issue by some jurors in return for a relinquishment by others of their like settled opinion upon another issue and the result is one which does not command the approval of the whole panel," and, as such, is not permitted.
A General Verdict is one in which the jury makes a complete finding and single conclusion on all issues presented to it. First, the jury finds the facts, as proved by the evidence, then it applies the law as instructed by the court, and finally it returns a verdict in one conclusion that settles the case. Such verdict is reported as follows:
"We the Jury find the issues for the plaintiff (or defendant, as the case may be) and assess his damages at one hundred thousand dollars."
A quotient verdict is a special case of a compromise verdict in which jurors determine the damages to be paid to the prevailing party by agreeing that each juror will write down his or her assessment of the damages, and the sum of these numbers is divided by the number of jurors. Quotient verdicts are considered invalid in the United States.
A sealed verdict is a verdict that's put in a sealed envelope when there is a delay in announcing the result, such as waiting for the judge, the parties and the attorneys to come back to court. The verdict is kept in a sealed envelope until court reconvenes and then handed to the judge.
In English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...
, a special verdict
is a verdict by a jury
In the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, there is a long tradition of jury trial that has evolved over centuries.-History:The English jury has its roots in two institutions that date from before the Norman conquest in 1066...
that pronounces on the facts of the case but does not draw the ultimate inference of whether the accused is guilt
In criminal law, guilt is entirely externally defined by the state, or more generally a “court of law.” Being “guilty” of a criminal offense means that one has committed a violation of criminal law, or performed all the elements of the offense set out by a criminal statute...
y or not; the judge then applies the law and to convict or acquit. In the words of William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...
, "The jury state the naked facts, as they find them to be proved, and pray the advice of the court thereon".
The judge forced a special verdict in the famous case of R v. Dudley and Stephens
but generally such verdicts should only be returned in the most exceptional cases.