The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-26-2002, 05:18 AM
Border Border is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
"Not Guilty" v "Not Proven."

As an infrequent visitor to this forum I apologise if this topic has recently been aired.

A very recent murder trial (in England) resulted in a “Not Guilty” verdict. Should compelling evidence emerge at a later date the double jeopardy law precludes retrial of the accused.

Is it not time English law permitted the “Not Proven” option available to Scottish juries? I’m assuming that a “Not Proven” verdict would allow a further trial if important evidence later came to light.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 04-26-2002, 05:28 AM
DMC DMC is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 3,557
Here is why we Americans don't practice double jeopardy.

As for England, a possible change to the situation is underway, but it has been shelved for now.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-26-2002, 05:45 AM
Milton De La Warre Milton De La Warre is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Does the declaration of a mistrial necessarily open the door to re-filing of charges at a later time, thus essentially allowing the accused to be tried twice for the same offence?
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-26-2002, 05:50 AM
Jman Jman is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
In a mistrial, there was no verdict...therefore, the accused has really not been tried. It's on no one's best interests to have a mistrial...the prosocution would simply be wasting money, and the defense would be delaying possible freedom.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-26-2002, 06:16 AM
Hemlock Hemlock is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Juries in Scotland have the option of delivering a "not proven" verdict. It means "possibly guilty but the prosecutor didn't do his job properly in convincing us". In England/US it would be "not guilty".

My understanding is that "not proven" is as good as "not guilty". But the OP assumes a retrial is possible in Scotland - ie there is no double jeopardy rule there - when such a verdict is delivered.

A cite?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-26-2002, 06:20 AM
APB APB is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 1,796
Re: "Not Guilty" v "Not Proven."

Quote:
Originally posted by Border
Is it not time English law permitted the “Not Proven” option available to Scottish juries? I’m assuming that a “Not Proven” verdict would allow a further trial if important evidence later came to light.
If you're assuming that the Scots courts currently permit retrials following a 'not proven' verdict, then you assume wrongly. The same 'double jeopardy' rules apply as with 'not guilty' verdicts. Indeed, the 'not proven' verdict survives (apart from sentimental reasons) mainly because the accused cannot be retried. It allows the jury to cast doubt on the accused's innocence in the knowledge that he/she will never be convicted on the particular charges before the court.

I don't really see why you think there would be anything to gain from the introduction of 'not proven' verdicts elsewhere. There is an argument for saying that the emergence of important new evidence should allow retrials, but the whole point of that argument is that the original jury was not in a position to consider the full facts. If you want retrials, you surely believe that it is the case presented at the second trial, not what the previous jury thought, which should matter.

You should also not assume that there is much support for the 'not proven' verdict in Scotland. Many, including prominent lawyers and politicians, want to see it abolished. I would support abolition. It is however one of those issues which is never a pressing political priority, not least because the verdict is one which is used only very rarely.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-26-2002, 08:43 PM
Neurodoc Neurodoc is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Suggestion...

As an American, I value our protection against "Double Jeopardy," even though it is not as strong a protection as I would like. For example, a person can be found "not guilty" in a state court and "guilty" in a federal court (mostly this involves civil rights charges, though violations of medical marijuana laws and physician assisted suicide laws may offer future examples...

I suggest we consider a verdict of "not proven" as an indication that a jury had some doubt, but not "reasonable doubt" about the guilt or innocence of a defendant. "Not guilty" could be reserved for exculpating verdicts in which there was no doubt whatsoever.

To preserve protections of the defendant against re-trial, either verdict would prohibit double jeopardy.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-27-2002, 12:09 AM
Riboflavin Riboflavin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Re: Suggestion...

Quote:
Originally posted by Neurodoc
I suggest we consider a verdict of "not proven" as an indication that a jury had some doubt, but not "reasonable doubt" about the guilt or innocence of a defendant. "Not guilty" could be reserved for exculpating verdicts in which there was no doubt whatsoever.
I don't understand what you're saying here - in the US, if the jury has 'reasonable doubt' about the guilt of the defendant, then they are supposed to find 'Not guilty'. That's the whole standard; if they do have reasonable doubt about the person's guilt, then the person is supposed to go free.

The whole basis of the US judicial system is that the government has to either prove guilt in front of a jury beyond reasonable doubt or leave him free. If the government, with the resources of the courts, laws, and money to dedicate to collecting evidence cannot provide proof that a person has committed a crime, then legally they are considered not to be guilty of a crime and they shouldn't recieve any kind of punishment. Throwing out the whole concept of innocent until proven guilty hardly seems like a good idea to me.

I can't see ANY good that would come of allowing a 'not proven' verdict, and a lot of harm that could come from it.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-27-2002, 12:12 AM
Big Kahuna Burger Big Kahuna Burger is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
In the Senate impeachment trial Arlen Specter voted the claims against Clinton "not proven." They were nowhere near 2/3 so they didn't bother trying to make him change his vote.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-27-2002, 02:07 AM
pravnik pravnik is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: TX
Posts: 13,374
I'd have to go drag a bunch of books out (maybe a Scottish barrister can come along and help me here) but IIRC a Scottish jury has three choices: innocent, not proven, and guilty. It seemed like little functional differnece existed between innocent and not proven beyond looking a little better for the defendant, but IANASB (I Am Not A Scottish Barrister).

Here it's just as Riboflavin said: being found not guilty doesn't mean innocence, it just means guilt wasn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If I understand it correctly there's not a huge difference, just two levels of "not guilty"
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 04-27-2002, 09:33 AM
waterj2 waterj2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Quote:
Here it's just as Riboflavin said: being found not guilty doesn't mean innocence, it just means guilt wasn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If I understand it correctly there's not a huge difference, just two levels of "not guilty"
According to your profile, "here" refers to Texas. In the US, there is no difference between "not guilty" and "innocent". As the expression says, you are innocent until (and unless) proven guilty. Thus, legally speaking, everything other than having been proven guilty in a court of law is equivalent to "innocent". There is only one level of "not guilty".
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:18 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.