Conviction Law and Legal Definition

A conviction is the outcome of a trial in which a criminal defendant is found guilty. A defendant in a criminal trial may be convicted by a judge or jury if the prosecutor proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In a jury trial, the number of jurors required to convict varies by state.

When a verdict is returned and before it is recorded the jury may be polled at the request of any party or upon the court’s own motion. If upon the poll there is not unanimous concurrence, the jury may be directed to retire for further deliberation or may be discharged.

The following is a sample instruction defining "beyond a resonable doubt", according to one state's uniform criminal jury instructions:

"Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest level of certainty recognized in the law. It requires a significantly greater degree of certainty than the next lower standard of "clear and convincing evidence." The clear and convincing standard requires evidence of such convincing force that it demonstrates, in contrast to the opposing evidence, a high probability of the truth of the facts for which it is offered as proof. To be clear and convincing, the evidence must be so clear as to leave no substantial doubt and be sufficiently strong to command the unhesitating assent of every reasonable mind. Again, the proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard requires a significantly greater degree of certainty than that required to meet the clear and convincing evidence standard."