Implied Acquittal Law and Legal Definition

An implied acquittal by the jury is an acquittal in which a jury convicts the defendant of a lesser-included offense without commenting on the greater-offense. Under the doctrine of implied acquittal a conviction of one charge constitutes an implied acquittal of all other charges based upon the same facts if the verdict is silent as to those other charges. For example, conviction of voluntary manslaughter has long been considered an implied acquittal of murder where the jury is instructed on both offenses.

In Brazzel v. Washington, 484 F.3d 1087 (9th Cir. 2007), the court observed that “The doctrine of implied acquittal states that when a jury convicts on a lesser alternate charge and fails to reach a verdict on the greater charge--without announcing any splits or divisions and having had a full and fair opportunity to do so--the jury's silence on the second charge is an implied acquittal. A verdict of implied acquittal is final and bars a subsequent prosecution for the same offense. Putting a defendant in jeopardy a second time is not necessarily harmless error or moot, even if the defendant is only convicted of the lesser crime, because the Double Jeopardy Clause is cast in terms of the risk or hazard of trial and conviction, not of the ultimate legal consequences of the verdict.”