Directed Verdict Law and Legal Definition

A directed verdict is verdict rendered by a jury upon instruction by the judge that they must bring in that verdict because one of the parties has not proved their case as a matter of law. The judge has the discretion to take over the fact-finding role of the jury when the evidence is so compelling that only one verdict can be given. A judge in a criminal case may direct a verdict of acquittal when the judge finds the prosecution has not proved its case, but the judge may not direct a verdict of guilty, since that would deprive the accused of the constitutional right to a jury trial.

In a civil trial, parties often make a motion for a directed verdict at the close of the evidence offered by the adverse party. The motion is based upon an assertion that the party has raised no genuine issue to be tried. A judge may order a directed verdict as to an entire case or only to certain issues. In a criminal trial, when considering a motion for a directed verdict in a criminal case, the trial court is concerned with the existence or nonexistence of evidence, not its weight. Similarly to a civil case, in a criminal case, a motion for a directed verdict is typically made at the close of the state's case.