This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (April 2019)
|Criminal trials and convictions|
|Rights of the accused|
|Related areas of law|
In law, a conviction is the verdict reached by a court of law finding a defendant guilty of a crime. Under common law, a defendant who pleads guilty is automatically convicted. The opposite of a conviction is an acquittal (that is, "not guilty"). In Scotland, there can also be a verdict of "not proven", which is considered an acquittal. Sometimes, despite a defendant being found guilty, the court may order that the defendant not be convicted. This is known as a discharge and is used in countries including England, Wales, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The criminal justice system is not perfect and there are instances in which innocent people are convicted. Appeal mechanisms and post conviction relief procedures may help to address this issue to some extent. An error leading to the conviction of an innocent person is known as a miscarriage of justice. In some judicial systems, the prosecution may appeal acquittals; while in others, this is prohibited under double jeopardy protections.
After a defendant is convicted, the court determines the appropriate sentence as a punishment. In addition to the sentence, a conviction can also have other consequences, known as collateral consequences of criminal charges. These can include impacts on employment, housing, the right to travel to other countries, and other areas of an individual's life.
A minor conviction is a warning conviction that does not affect the defendant but serves as a warning.
A person's history of convictions is known as their antecedents or "previous" in the United Kingdom and "priors" in the United States and Australia.