According to my dictionary:


an official decision made in a court of law, especially about whether someone is guilty of a crime or how a death happened


 a decision in a court of law that someone is guilty of a crime, or the process of proving that someone is guilty

Both look very similar in meaning. What's the difference between these two words?

3 Answers 3


This question may have slightly different answers in different English-speaking countries, but in the US, the verdict is the decision itself. After hearing the evidence in the case, the judge or jury will deliberate and then "render the verdict," or "deliver the verdict." This will usually take the form of a pronouncement that the person is "guilty" or "not guilty." If you watch American TV or movies, you will see one of the jury members being asked to report its verdict in a formula that goes something like this:

"On the charge of murder, we the jury find the defendant not guilty."

The conviction is the fact of the person's being found guilty of the crime. For example,

"After his conviction for murder, the man was sentenced to 25 years in prison."


To simplify...

The jury brings the verdict to the court.
That verdict is 'guilty', 'not guilty' [or in some jurisdictions some variant of 'not proven' is a potential 3rd option]

Only if the verdict brought is 'guilty' is the defendant convicted of the crime.

You first example has a slight variation - 'how a death happened'
That couldn't in itself result in any conviction, as no-one at that point is on trial.
The jury in that case will return verdicts along the lines of 'death by misadventure' [drowned by swimming in heavy seas - his own fault] or 'unlawful killing'. That second one could then lead to someone being arrested & put on trial for that killing. After that, they could be convicted.


so you can say a conviction was unfair as in the defendant should have been absolved, however with a verdict if you say it was unfair, it could mean the jury or the judge didn't look at the facts correctly, but there could still be a conviction, it might just be a different one

  • Can you provide a source for this or some examples as it seems to contradict the current answers?
    – mdewey
    Nov 22, 2020 at 17:10

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