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An acquittal is a resolution of some or all of the factual elements of the offense charged. The trier of fact, whether the jury or the court, must render a verdict of finding not guilty of the charged offense. A not guilty finding is an adjudication that proof at a prior proceeding was insufficient to overcome all reasonable doubt of guilt of the accused. One who is acquitted is judicially discharged from an accusation and is absolved. The double jeopardy clause bars appeal and retrial by the prosecutor. See: Const. Amend. 5.

Oftentimes, acquittals will come in the form of a judgment that the defendant was “hereby dismissed of the within charge.” After an acquittal, there is nothing on which punishment could be based unless there is evidence of another offense that is otherwise admissible. In that case, the fact that the defendant was acquitted does not render the evidence inadmissible. Further, one cannot offer as evidence the acquittal of a co-defendant to prove the other co-defendant is not guilty.

[Last updated in December of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]