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Definitions

 

A

Acquit, Acquittal

  • To acquit a defendant is to find them not guilty. A finding that a defendant is not guilty is known as an acquittal. 

    Contrast this with a hung jury or a conviction.

Acquitted Conduct

  • Acquitted conduct refers to conduct for which a defendant was criminally charged and tried but subsequently found not guilty.

    Contrast this with uncharged conduct.

Allen Charge

  • When jurors cannot agree on a verdict and report this to a judge, the judge may issue further instruction to them to encourage those in the minority to reconsider their position. These instructions are known as an Allen charge or, more casually, as a dynamite charge. 

    The Allen charge is named for the United States Supreme Court case Allen v. United States (1986) in which the Court approved such instructions in federal cases. The ruling is not binding on the states. Consequently, many states have banned such charges to the jury.

    Formal wording of the instructions varies depending on which court is issuing them. While they may sound quite forceful, intimidating, or even seem to imply that a juror must or should change their verdict, Allen charges do not require jurors to do so. If they remains undecided on a verdict, additional Allen charges may be issued to the jury. However, if repeated Allen charges fail to bring a hung jury to consensus, the judge will eventually declare a mistrial.

 

 

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