The Court Decision - Adult Accused

Once the court has heard all of the evidence and Crown and defence counsel have made their final statements, the court (judge or jury) will decide if you are guilty or not guilty. In a jury trial, the jury will decide whether the evidence supports a conviction. The judge will decide any questions of law. If your trial is by a judge alone, the judge will make the decisions.  

If the court finds you guilty, the judge will decide on your sentence. 

If the court finds you not guilty, then you will be acquitted. The charges against you will be dismissed.

Helpful Terms - Court Decision

You might hear the following terms in relation to the court decision.

  • Judgment or Verdict - The decision the judge or jury makes about whether you committed a crime. 
  • Plea - The statement you make to the court when asked if you are guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you will not have a trial and the judge will decide your sentence. If you plead not guilty, your case will go to trial.
  • Found Not Guilty – Crown counsel has not proven to the court, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the crime you were charged with. If you are found not guilty, the matter is over. You are free to leave the court
  • Acquittal - You have been found not guilty of committing an offence by the court.
  • Stay of Proceedings – This means Crown counsel has dropped the charges against you, ending the prosecution. However, for a serious charge, they may re-start the prosecution within one year of the stay. For a less serious charge, Crown counsel may re-start the prosecution within six months of the incident that led to charges. If the prosecution is not re-started within those time frames, the matter is over.
  • Found Guilty – The court is satisfied Crown counsel has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. This is also called being convicted. A sentencing hearing may be held immediately. Or, the judge may hold the sentencing hearing later. 
  • Conviction - The charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt at the trial and the judge or jury finds you guilty. In other words, you have been convicted and not discharged. You will receive a sentence.
  • Conditional Discharge – You have been found guilty of committing a crime, but the court has decided, if you follow certain conditions, the conviction will be removed from your record. In this case:
    • You will not be held in custody
    • A probation officer will be assigned to you during the time you are required to follow the probation conditions. Your conditions may include going without alcohol and having good behaviour in the community.
  • Absolute Discharge - You may have been found guilty by the court or may have stated (pleaded) that you are guilty of committing the crime, but the judge has decided not to sentence you. In this case:
    • The judge decided it was in your or the community’s best interest not to sentence you for this offence
    • After one year, if you have no additional offences, the offence is removed from your criminal record.

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More Information

Visit Understanding Your Sentence (Adult Offender) for more information.