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Judgment

A judgment, or verdict, is what the judge or jury decides in the case. In a criminal case it can either be “guilty” or “not guilty”.

An accused person is always considered innocent until she or he has been proven guilty in court. It is the responsibility of the Crown lawyers to prove that the accused broke the law. The accused never has to prove their innocence.

In a trial by judge and jury, the jury reaches a verdict after holding deliberations (discussions). Everyone in the jury has to agree on the verdict. This is called a unanimous decision.

If the judge or jury (depending on the kind of trial) has a doubt as to whether the accused is guilty and that doubt is "reasonable", they must find the accused “not guilty”. They are not allowed to speculate. This means that they cannot say "maybe he did it," or “she could have done it if...". The judge or jury has to decide whether Crown presented enough evidence to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.

In a trial by judge and jury, the court clerk or judge will ask for the verdict (decision), if one has been reached. The foreperson will stand and say, "Yes, we have reached a verdict." Then the jury will wait for the accused to stand before giving their verdict of "guilty" or "not guilty". The jury will be asked by the court clerk "This is your verdict, so say you all? Please stand to confirm your verdict." The jury will all stand to confirm their verdict. The judge will then either sentence or release the accused, depending on the verdict. The judge will thank the jury for their service and discharge them.

In a trial by judge alone, the judge may deliver the verdict at the end of the closing summations. However, in some cases, the judge may “reserve judgment”, which means that the judgment will be delivered on a different day. If the accused is found “not guilty” he or she is free to leave. If the accused is found “guilty” then the sentencing hearing will be held immediately or be set on a future date to allow a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

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