ACQUITTAL - Black's Law Dictionary

What is ACQUITTAL? Definition of ACQUITTAL in Black's Law Dictionary


A release, absolution, or discharge from an obligation, liability, or engagement.

According to Lord Coke, there are three kinds of acquittal, namely : by deed, when the party releases the obligation; by prescription; by tenure; Co. Litt. 100 a.


The legal and formal certification of the innocence of a person who has been charged with crime; a deliverance or setting free a person from a charge of guilt.

In a narrow sense, it is the absolution of a party accused on a trial before a traverse jury. Thomas v. De Graffenreid, 2 Nott & McC. (S. C.) 143. Properly speaking, however, one is not acquitted by the jury but by the judgment of the court. People v. Rogers, 170 N.Y.S. 86, 87, 102 Misc. 437. And he may be legally acquitted by a judgment rendered otherwise than in pursuance of a verdict, as where he is discharged by a magistrate because of the insufficiency of the evidence, or the indictment is dismissed by the court or a nol. pros. entered. State v. Hart, 90 N.J. Law 261, 101 A. 278. But. compare State v. Smith, 170 N.C.742; 87 S.E. 98, 99.

"Nol. pros." not equivalent of "acquittal." Bolton v. State, 166 Miss. 290, 146 So. 453, 454. The unnecessary discharge of the jury without the consent of the accused after it has been sworn may constitute an acquittal. Riley v. Commonwealth, 190 Ky. 204, 227 S. W. 146, 147. Acquittal discharges from guilt, pardon only from punishment. Younger v. State, 2 W.Va. 579, 98 Am.Dec. 791.

It may occur even though the question of guilt or innocence has never been submitted to a jury, as where a defendant, having been held under an indictment or information, is discharged because not brought to trial within the time provided by the Criminal Code. State v. Taylor, 130 Kan. 813, 288 P. 731, 732.

Acquittals in fact are those which take place when the jury, upon trial, finds a verdict of not guilty.

Acquittals in law are those which take place by mere operation of law; as where a man has been charged merely as an assessory, and the principal has been acquitted. 2 Co.Inst. 364. Ccmpare State v. Walton, 186 N.C. 485, 119 S.E. 886, 888.

See Jeopardy; Autrefois Acquit; Convict.

Feudal Law

The obligation on the part of a mesne lord to protect his tenant from any claims, entries or molestations by lords paramount arising out of the services due to them by the mesne lord. See Co.Litt. 100a.

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