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what does acquitted mean

what does it mean to be acquitted

Acquittal is an official declaration in a court of law that an accused person is innocent of the crime. Usually, acquittal happens to either some or all their criminal charges.

Acquitting a criminal defendant occurs when there’s no evidence supporting the charges or the prosecution has no evidence to prove the case.

Understanding Acquittal

After knowing the charges on your offense, you and your attorney will decide to plead for the case. However, pleading guilty or no contest will not earn you a trial hence no chance for acquittal.

Conversely, when you plead not guilty, you will have to go to trial, where the judge or jury will make their decision after listening to the evidence presented against you.

Subsequently, the government’s role in convincing the jury “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you are guilty of the crime. But if there is no reasonable doubt, the jury has no option but to acquit you.

What’s The Difference Between “Acquitted” And “Not Guilty?”

In the criminal justice system, the terms “acquitted” and “not guilty” slightly differ.

“Not guilty” means that the suspect has not committed any crime and is therefore not answerable to any part of it. Consider, for instance, a person with charges of rape and domestic violence. If there is insufficient evidence to support the rape charge, yet the domestic violence charge has enough evidence, then the defendant is not guilty of the rape part of the case.

“Acquitted” shows that after a jury trial, the jury determines the defendant is not guilty. Nonetheless, a partial acquittal is whereby the accused is not guilty of one charge after a trial, but there’s a guilty judgment for a different criminal violation.

Bear in mind that the defendant is not “innocent” of a crime after acquittal in some areas like the U.S. Instead, it shows that the prosecutor did not have enough evidence to prove, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” that the offender did it.

Also, note that acquittal also happens to certain crimes but the person held civilly answerable for the same offense in a civil case. This is possible because civil cases require lower regular proof.

Does An “Acquittal” And “Dismissal” Mean The Same?

In criminal procedure laws, “acquittal” is not the same as “dismissal.”
As observed, an acquittal happens after a trial, jury or a judge finds the accused not guilty of a crime. Moreover, a dismissal occurs quickly in the criminal court procedure when:

•    The prosecutor believes there is not sufficient evidence to support the charge.

•    The judge thinks the case has no credibility or resources for trying case are not available.

Moreover, a criminal defense attorney can plea for the dismissal of the case because:
•    Authorities carried out an illegal search and confiscation.
    Police arrested the offender without credible cause.

    The district attorney committed mistakes while making the criminal charging documents.
•    There was inadequate evidence to support the case.

Note that dismissal is also similar to having charges “dropped.” This means that the prosecutor fails to pursue a case because of not enough evidence. In both dismissal and dropping, the defendant does not go for trial.

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