Acquittal vs Discharge: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Acquittal: Verdict of not guilty, defendant is cleared of charges.
  2. Discharge: Case dismissed before a verdict, doesn’t determine guilt or innocence.
  3. Outcome Differences: Acquittal signifies innocence, case closed. Discharge may allow charges to be refiled.

What is Acquittal?

A verdict given by the judge in the court of justice where a legal confirmation is passed that the accused is innocent based on the evidence and alibis is known as an acquittal.

The judge only passes judgement when the accused person proves he or she has not committed the crime. The judgement is passed only when all the roots of suspicion are cleared.

An acquittal also marks the unsuccessful attempt of the prosecutor, where he or she failed to prove that the accused committed the crime. They failed to prove the accused’s guilt in the court of justice.

A case presented in front of the court is reasonable or beyond a reasonable doubt. To avoid an acquittal, the prosecutor must present evidence or proof at a supreme level which strong alibis must support; only then a guilty verdict can be proven.

The judgement is passed only after scrutinising the evidence and the arguments presented by the prosecution and the defence. The view held by the judge is that the accused is not guilty and the evidence provided is hollow; thus, the acquittal is given.

What is Discharge?

The procedure of freeing the accused from the case because of fewer pieces of evidence and arguments from the prosecutor and offence is known as discharge. It is a procedure followed after an acquittal is given to the accused in the court of justice.

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Two important factors considered before discharging the accused are that there should be fewer data provided in the court of justice against the accused, and the court must state the reason with utmost clarity as to why the accused should be discharged.

One of the parties in the court must give a formal statement that must be recorded in the charge sheet of the court case.

The magistrate believes that the allegations enforced upon the accused are fake and baseless, and if required, the magistrate shall examine the accused. Both parties are heard and considered at equal levels.

In some cases, the accused is discharged after examining the evidence, while in some cases, the judge is obligated to discharge the accused. These cases include missing legal grounds, not obtaining permission before starting the case, missing evidence etc.

The accused, if prevented from any legal proceedings due to any foregoing judgement, must also be discharged by the court.

Difference Between Acquittal and Discharge

  1. An acquittal is a verdict; on the other hand, discharge is the release of the accused or a procedure.
  2. On the same grounds, an acquitted person can not be rearrested; on the other hand, a discharged person can be rearrested if he or she is accused of the same crime.
  3. The accused can be acquitted only after being framed for the charges; on the other hand, the accused can be discharged even before being framed for the charges.
  4. A fresh trial is restrained in an acquittal; on the other hand, the court can proceed further for a second trial in discharge.
  5. An acquittal is mostly the last stage of a court trial; conversely, a discharge is mostly the first stage.
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Comparison Between Acquittal and Discharge

Parameters Of ComparisonAcquittalDischarge
TypeLegal verdictLegal order
Succeeding trialForbiddenPossible
RearrestImpossible on the same charges.Possible on the same charges.
Absence ofComplainant from the offence.Evidence
RequirementAbsence of reasonable doubtThe grounds should be baseless.
References
  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/leiden-journal-of-international-law/article/what-happens-to-the-acquitted/C462588EA318B5504DBF23410F8C5E0F
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/sjls27&section=14

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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