jail cardAcquittal

Nolo Law defines an acquittal as, “A decision by a judge or jury that a defendant in a criminal case is not guilty of a crime. An acquittal is not a finding of innocence; it is simply a conclusion that the prosecution has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.” Cornell University Law School adds, “Thus, a person may be acquitted of a crime but found civilly liable in a civil case regarding that same crime, e.g. O.J. Simpson, because civil cases have a lower burden of proof than criminal cases.” 76-1-403(2): “There is an acquittal if the prosecution resulted in a finding of not guilty by the trier of facts or in a determination that there was insufficient evidence to warrant conviction.”

Example Sentence

John Richardson was acquitted of all charges because the prosecutor could not provide enough evidence to convict him; the judge ruled that he was not guilty and Richardson was able to avoid jail time.

Case Study

O.J. Simpson was acquitted and found not guilty of murder charges in 1994. It was said that  the improper collection of evidence throughout the case helped O.J. get the verdict that he did.

Other Important Information

Much like Monopoly‘s “Get out of Jail Free” card, an acquittal clears the person being tried of the offense they were being tried for (although the Chance card does not tell you is that you can be found guilty of a lesser offense even when you are acquitted of the greater offense). Title 76, Chapter 1, Section 403 states that when a “criminal episode” is acquitted, no offense within that episode may be prosecuted.  When a person is acquitted or their conviction is reversed, the slate is wiped clean:  they get out of jail, the record is expunged, their vehicle is re-registered in keeping with 41-12a-604, etc. Acquittal does not prove innocence but rather closes the case because the prosecutor is not able to prove that the defendant is guilty.

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