The legal terms “judgment” and “verdict” are ones that can easily get mixed up. Here at Heidari Law, we want to make sure our clients are completely informed of the legal processes and understand every step of the way throughout the course of litigation. We strive to keep our clients informed constantly of any updates regarding their case. Below is an article that explains the differences between judgment and verdict, and what effects they have on a case. Although they seem very similar, judgment and verdict mean Two different things in the legal world.
In both criminal and civil cases, parties have the right to choose whether they would like a jury trial. A jury trial occurs when a group of individuals listen to both sides and come to a decision regarding the legal claim.
What is a Verdict?
A verdict is a term used in criminal cases. Criminal cases are those in which are brought by a prosecutor of the state against a defendant. In a criminal case, the defendant could be found guilty or not guilty. Examples of criminal cases include robbery, murder, and assault. The proof is beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases. The case will be filed by the government or the state. If the defendant is found guilty, the defendant could face imprisonment, fines, or even the death penalty.
A criminal case can occur as a bench trial or a jury trial. A bench trial is when the judge decides on the case, and a jury trial is when a group of people acting as a jury decide the verdict of the trial. A verdict refers to a decision made only by the jury. The jury will only reach a verdict after hearing both sides of the case, and after looking at all types of evidence.
Different Types of Verdicts
There are a couple different types of verdicts that a jury may reach. Oftentimes, the judge decides what type of verdict the jury must decide.
- Partial verdict: A partial verdict occurs when a jury finds that the defendant is guilty of only a part of the crime, but is not guilty of the other parts of the crime. For example, in the cases of robbery, the prosecutor must show that there was a use-of-force along with larceny. Larceny is the trespassory taking and carrying away of another person’s property. When the jury deliberates, the jury could find that the defendant is guilty of larceny (the trespassory taking), however did not use force and should not be guilty of robbery.
- Special verdict: A special verdict occurs when a jury is given multiple different details to decide upon. The jury answers a of set of detailed questions. This is usually used in complex cases, and the judge provides a special verdict form for the jury to keep their answers organized.
- General verdict: A general verdict is one of the most common types of verdicts. A general verdict is simply guilty or not guilty. It does not have any specific findings on any other disputed issues. For example, the jury could either decide that the defendant is guilty or not guilty of robbery. They cannot decide anything else.
What is a Judgment?
A judgment is made by a judge or the court of law. A judgment includes both questions of facts and questions of law. Oftentimes, a judgment can include a verdict. A verdict alone is not the final statement made by the court, and does not completely conclude the trial. A judgment, however, will conclude the entire trial. After a judgment is imposed, a plaintiff or defendant could appeal the decision. There are several different types of judgments that a judge can make. Below are just some examples of different types of judgments:
- Default judgment: When a plaintiff files a claim against a defendant, and the defendant fails to respond within the required amount of time, the judge will enter a default judgment against the defendant.
- Declaratory judgment: A declaratory judgment occurs when a party asks the court to determine the rights and responsibilities of both parties in regards to a specific legal claim.
- Judgment as a matter of law: A judgment as a matter of law is asserted when either party claims that the other party has not brought forth enough evidence for a reasonable jury member to make a decision in their favor.
- Summary judgment: This is a judgment made by either party after the close of all evidence during discovery, and states that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Essentially, it is an assertion that the party has not brought forth enough evidence in their favor.
Conclusion of a Trial
A trial only concludes after a judgment has been entered by the court clerk. After the court clerk enters the judgment, the judgment could then be appealable.
Usually, in personal injury cases, parties end up coming to a settlement agreement rather than pursuing a trial. A settlement agreement could be resorted to at any time throughout the legal process. When a settlement agreement is reached, then the court will not be able to issue any other judgment other than what the settlement agreement states. The settlement agreement could even be decided before the case even goes to trial.
Settlement agreements have advantages and disadvantages. The settlement agreement depends on what type of case the plaintiff has. To better determine if a settlement agreement or a judgment is better, contact our experienced litigation attorneys to determine the best course of action.
Main Differences Between a Judgment and a Verdict
A summary of the key differences between a judgment and a verdict:
- A verdict is a decision made by jury members. Jury members decide on a verdict after hearing both plaintiff and defendant’s case.
- A verdict does not mean that the entire case has concluded
- A judgment is a decision made by a judge or court.
- A judgment could conclude the entire case.
Although a verdict and a judgment may seem similar at first, there are very subtle differences that lead to very different legal causes of action. Usually, legal claims are not simple and clear-cut and require an analysis of very complex legal issues and elements. In order to fully understand your case, please call us to book a free consultation to determine the merits of your claim. We will work to create a successful legal strategy in order to ensure maximum compensation as we navigate through your legal claim. We have offices located in major cities such as Fresno, Irvine, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. We are readily accessible and will always be available to answer any type of questions from our clients.
***Disclaimer: This blog is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this blog, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.