sentence, verdict, conviction

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nikkieli

Senior Member
Bulgaria, Bulgarian
Hi,

While the distinction between 'sentence' and 'verdict' is clear-cut, I seem to be at a loss when I'm asked to specify the difference between 'sentence' and 'conviction'. To the best of my knowledge, 'sentence' in the meaning of a final judgment of guilty in a criminal case and the punishment that is imposed is used a lot more as compared to 'conviction'.
Still, there are a number of fixed phrase cases, where one cannot substitute one for the other, like 'a death sentence, life sentence, he was sentenced to 5 years inprisonment...', or 'convicted of murder'. Is it really a matter of collocation, or is there a definite difference between the two?
Thank you
 
  • Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Indeed Nikkieli, the distinction is clear, but not quite as you describe it.

    The verdict is the decision "guilty or not guilty" (in some courts, other verdicts are possible).

    The sentence is the punishment imposed as a result of a guilty verdict.

    A conviction exists when the verdict is "guilty" but not when the verdict is "not guilty."

    So, the jury might return a verdict of "guilty" when you are tried for murder. You are therefore convicted of murder and you may be sentenced to hang.
     

    nikkieli

    Senior Member
    Bulgaria, Bulgarian
    Thanks, Lexi!
    I've got it, now.
    Might I just say that I didn't quite understand your last sentences. If the jury has returned a verdict of 'guilty', then the verdict is actually 'not guilty', therefore one cannot be convicted of murder. Or, is here 'return' used to mean 'pass a sentence on s.b.'?
    I hope I made myself clear.
     
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