Guide

What happens at a criminal court case

Last updated: 29 June 2017

Verdicts

When all evidence from witnesses has been heard, the judge, sheriff, justice of the peace or jury must reach their verdict or make their decision.

In a criminal court case the possible verdicts are:

Guilty

This means the evidence has been enough to prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the accused person committed the crime or part of the crime. The judge will consider the most appropriate sentence or punishment.

Sometimes sentencing doesn't happen immediately after a verdict, and will be delayed for background reports.

If you're a victim you may be advised if the offender is released on bail and if you're eligible to make a victim statement.

Not proven or not guilty

This means there wasn't enough evidence to prove the case 'beyond reasonable doubt' or there were other reasons why the accused wasn't found guilty.

Both these verdicts have the same effect and mean the accused will be excused from the court – they will be free to leave.

Finding out the verdict

If you weren't at the court case, as a victim or witness you can ask for information about what happens with the case at court.

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What happens at a criminal court case
Verdicts