"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.

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”

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”.