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What does Verdict mean?

In a civil or criminal trial a judge or jury will hear the evidence of the case and make a judgment or opinion about the guilt or innocence of a defendant. In a civil case they will decide whether or not to find for the plaintiff or for the defendant.

Verdicts are not made until the jury has heard all of the evidence and has had time to deliberate or discuss their findings. Verdicts may or may not have to be unanimous depending on the crime or the jurisdiction where the case is held. For some crimes and jurisdictions a majority vote will be enough to secure a guilty or innocent verdict.

Criminal cases differ from civil claims. Verdicts in a criminal case should only be made against the defendant if the juror believes the guilt of the defendant has been proven "beyond a reasonable doubt". In a civil claim the jury may decide to award damages to a plaintiff if they believe there is a "preponderance of evidence" to support the plaintiff's case against the defendant.

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