The Verdict and Other Remedies: Guilty, Not Guilty, or Stayed Charges

verdicts criminal cases trialAt the end of the case a trial judge is required to return a verdict of guilty or not guilty unless the Crown prosecutor withdraws the case or the charges are stayed by the Crown or the Court.   The verdict is not required to be the same for all charges.  For example, a judge may decide that a person is guilty of one court, but not guilty of another.

A judge may also decide that a person is not guilty of charge as set out in the charging document (the Information or Indictment) but guilty of a lesser included offence of the charge alleged.   This means that a judge could find someone not guilty of the charge of sexual assault, but guilty of a lesser and included offence of assault if the facts supported such a result.   A verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty” and all the included verdicts may also be delivered by a jury if the matter is heard before one.

If an accused is found “not guilty” of a charge, that ends the matter for that charge unless the matter is appealed by the Crown.   If a person is acquitted of all their charges, i.e. found “not guilty”, then all bail conditions attached to that charge will also cease.  However, if a person has other outstanding charges, then those conditions attached to those charges will remain in force.

If a person is found “guilty” of all or some offences, the matter then typically moves to sentencing.  There may be rare situations where a person is found guilty but before a sentence is passed, the proceedings are stayed if a defence of entrapment is made out – to use one example.

In addition to verdicts of guilty and not guilty, a person may have their charges “stayed” which is very close to an acquittal or withdraw for most intents and purposes.  An exception to that would include implication for immigration where stays of proceedings are treated somewhat differently and places a person’s application on hold until the time limit when the Crown could re-prosecute the matter expires.

Speak to one of our criminal lawyers to understand more about verdicts and how they relate to your specific circumstances.