The formal decision or finding made by a jury concerning the questions submitted to it during a trial. The jury reports the verdict to the court, which generally accepts it.
The decision of a jury is called a verdict. A jury is charged with hearing the evidence presented by both sides in a trial, determining the facts of the case, applying the relevant law to the facts, and voting on a final verdict. There are different types of verdicts, and the votes required to render a verdict differ depending on whether the jury hears a criminal or civil case. Though most verdicts are upheld by the judge presiding at the trial, the judge has the discretion to set aside a verdict in certain circumstances.
A general verdict is the most common form of verdict. It is a comprehensive decision on an issue. In civil cases the jury makes a decision in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant, determining liability and the amount of money damages. In criminal cases the jury decides "guilty" or "not guilty" on the charge or charges against the defendant. In cases involving a major crime the verdict must be unanimous. In minor criminal cases, however, some states allow either a majority vote or a vote of 10 to 2. In civil cases many states have moved away from the unanimity requirement and now allow votes of 10 to 2.
A special verdict is sometimes used in civil cases where complex and technical questions of fact are involved and the parties seek to assert greater control over the decision-making process. The judge gives the jury a series of specific, written, factual questions. Based upon the jury's answers, or findings of fact, the judge will determine the verdict. Special verdicts are used only infrequently because parties often have a difficult time agreeing on the precise set of questions.
U.S. law does not permit chance verdicts. A chance verdict is one that has been determined not by deliberation but by a form of chance, such as the flip of a coin or the drawing of lots. Although such verdicts were once acceptable, they are now unlawful.
A directed verdict is not made by a jury. It is a verdict ordered by the court after the evidence has been presented and the court finds it insufficient for a jury to return a verdict for the side with the burden of proof. A court may enter a directed verdict before the jury renders its verdict. If the court allows the jury to make a verdict but then disagrees with the jury's evaluation of the evidence, the court can decide the case by issuing an order. For example, under rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a court can grant a judgment of acquittal to a defendant. In civil cases the court can issue a judgment notwithstanding the verdict.
verdict, in law, official decision of a jury respecting questions of fact that the judge has laid before it. In the United States, verdicts must be unanimous in federal courts, but majority verdicts are constitutionally permissible in state courts. The jury may be instructed to render a general verdict, a special verdict, or both. A general verdict requires the jury to decide whether the defendant is guilty (or liable, in civil cases). The jury's decision is theoretically based on whether it was convinced of the occurrence of all the facts necessary to substantiate a given violation of the criminal or civil law. A special verdict answers a specific question, e.g., did a deceased person die naturally or by violence? If the jury is required only to return a special verdict, the judge must himself decide whether the law was violated. In civil suits the judge may often modify or set aside verdicts. In criminal cases, however, a verdict of not guilty generally cannot be modified, and the accused must be discharged; the judge may in certain circumstances disregard a verdict of guilty. See jeopardy; sentence.
ver·dict / ˈvərdikt/ • n. a decision on a disputed issue in a civil or criminal case or an inquest: the jury returned a verdict of ‘not guilty.’ ∎ an opinion or judgment: I'm anxious to know your verdict on me. ORIGIN: Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French verdit, from Old French veir ‘true’ (from Latin verus) + dit (from Latin dictum ‘saying’).