This article is about the legal finding of fact. For other uses, see Verdict (disambiguation).

In law, a verdict is the formal finding of fact made by a jury on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge.[1] In a bench trial, the judge's decision near the end of the trial is simply referred to as a finding.[2] In England and Wales, a coroner's findings are called verdicts (see Coroner#Verdict).


The term "verdict", from the Latin veredictum, literally means "to say the truth" and is derived from Middle English verdit, from Anglo-Norman: a compound of ver ("true," from the Latin vērus) and dit ("speech," from the Latin dictum, the neuter past participle of dīcere, to say).

Criminal law

Main article: Criminal law

In a criminal case, the verdict, which may be either "not guilty" or "guilty" — except in Scotland where the verdict of "not proven" 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 of conviction rendered by judge, which in turn be followed by sentencing.

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 the case to the local Court of Appeals.

Compromise verdict

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.[3]

General verdict

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."

Note that the above does not include any mention of Jury Nullification, a right of jurors.

Sealed verdict

A sealed verdict is a verdict put into 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 the sealed envelope until court reconvenes and then handed to the judge.[4]

Special verdict

Main article: Special verdict

In English law, a special verdict is a verdict by a jury that pronounces on the facts of the case but does not draw the ultimate inference of whether the accused is guilty or not; the judge then applies the law and to convict or acquit.[5][6][7] In the words of William Blackstone, "The jury state the naked facts, as they find them to be proved, and pray the advice of the court thereon".[8]

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.[9][10]

See also


  1. (see Black's Law Dictionary, p. 1398 (5th ed. 1979)
  2. "Should I Waive a Jury Trial and Instead Have a Bench Trial?". Greg Hill & Associates. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  3. "Monti v. Wenkert, 947 A. 2d 261—Conn: Supreme Court 2008". Supreme Court of Connecticut. May 27, 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  4. "Sealed Verdict Law and Definition". Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  5. Lord Mackay of Clashfern (ed.) (2006) Halsbury's Laws of England, Vol.11(3) 4th ed. 2006 reissue, "Criminal Law, Evidence and Procedure", 1339. Special verdict.
  6. Morgan, E. M. (1923) "A brief history of special verdicts", Yale Law Journal, 32:575–592
  7. Simpson, A. W. B. (1984). Cannibalism and the Common Law: The Story of the Tragic Last Voyage of the Mignonette and the Strange Legal Proceedings to Which It Gave Rise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. pp 209–210. ISBN 978-0-226-75942-5.
  8. Commentaries on the Laws of England (14th ed.) 3 377
  9. R v. Bourne (1952) 36 Cr App Rep 125 at 127, CCA, per Lord Goddard CJ
  10. R v. Agbim [1979] Crim LR 171, CA
Look up Verdict in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Verdict". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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