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Acquittal vs. Discharge: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sara Rehman || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on November 25, 2023
Acquittal is a legal judgment of not guilty; discharge can mean release from legal charges or obligations, or from employment or service.

Key Differences

Acquittal is a legal term used when a court finds a defendant not guilty of the charges against them. It represents a conclusion of innocence in a criminal trial. Discharge, in a legal context, often refers to the release from a charge due to lack of evidence or other reasons without a determination of guilt or innocence.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023
In criminal law, an acquittal signifies that the prosecution failed to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, leading to their release. Discharge can occur before a case goes to trial, often when the prosecution decides there is insufficient evidence to proceed.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023
Acquittal is a final decision, meaning the defendant cannot be retried for the same offense, a protection under the principle of double jeopardy. Discharge, however, may not be final; for instance, discharged charges can sometimes be reinstated if new evidence emerges.
Sara Rehman
Nov 24, 2023
Outside of legal contexts, discharge has broader meanings, including the release of a person from employment, duties, or hospital care. This use is distinct from acquittal, which is specifically a legal term.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 24, 2023
Acquittal and discharge both imply a release, but their connotations and contexts differ significantly. Acquittal carries a connotation of cleared wrongdoing in a legal sense, whereas discharge can refer to various types of releases, not necessarily related to legal proceedings.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Legal Context

Judgment of not guilty in a criminal trial
Release from charges or obligations
Sara Rehman
Nov 24, 2023

Finality

Final and cannot be retried
May not be final, subject to change
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Implication

Implies innocence and end of legal proceedings
Can imply lack of evidence or procedural end
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Usage

Exclusively legal
Legal and other contexts (employment, medical)
Aimie Carlson
Nov 24, 2023

Outcome

Clear outcome of innocence
Outcome may not imply innocence
Janet White
Nov 24, 2023
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Acquittal and Discharge Definitions

Acquittal

End of criminal proceedings without conviction.
The acquittal marked the end of a contentious trial.
Sara Rehman
Nov 14, 2023

Discharge

Formal release from duties or service.
His discharge from military service was an emotional moment.
Harlon Moss
Nov 14, 2023

Acquittal

Legal judgment of not guilty.
The jury's acquittal of the defendant was unexpected.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 14, 2023

Discharge

Release from legal obligations or charges.
The judge ordered his discharge due to lack of evidence.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 14, 2023

Acquittal

Legal exoneration from criminal accusations.
His acquittal was a significant victory for his legal team.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 14, 2023

Discharge

Termination of employment.
His discharge from the company was sudden and unexpected.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 14, 2023

Acquittal

Release from criminal charge.
The acquittal in the high-profile case caused a media uproar.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 14, 2023

Discharge

Release from a hospital or medical care.
After her recovery, she received a discharge from the hospital.
Janet White
Nov 14, 2023

Acquittal

Declaration of innocence in a trial.
After years of legal battles, his acquittal brought relief.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 14, 2023

Discharge

Dismissal from a contractual or legal responsibility.
The discharge of his debts relieved him from financial burdens.
Sara Rehman
Nov 14, 2023

Acquittal

Judgment, as by a jury or judge, that a defendant is not guilty of a crime as charged.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Discharge

To release, as from confinement, care, or duty
Discharge a patient.
Discharge a soldier.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

The state of being found or proved not guilty.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Discharge

To let go; empty out
A train discharging commuters.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

The act of fulfilling the duties (of a given role, obligation etc.).
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Discharge

To pour forth; emit
A vent discharging steam.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

(legal) A legal decision that someone is not guilty with which they have been charged, or the formal dismissal of a charge by some other legal process.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

Payment of a debt or other obligation; reparations, amends.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

(historical) The act of releasing someone from debt or other obligation; acquittance.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

(rare) Avoidance of danger; deliverance.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

The act of acquitting; discharge from debt or obligation; acquittance.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

A setting free, or deliverance from the charge of an offense, by verdict of a jury or sentence of a court.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

Acquittal

A judgment of not guilty
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 13, 2023

FAQs

Does acquittal remove all legal penalties?

Yes, an acquitted individual faces no legal penalties for the acquitted crime.
Janet White
Nov 24, 2023

What does "acquittal" mean?

An acquittal is a legal judgment that a person is not guilty of the crime they were charged with.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

What leads to an acquittal?

An acquittal often occurs if the evidence is insufficient to convince the jury of the defendant's guilt.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Is acquittal the same as innocence?

Not exactly. Acquittal means the prosecution didn't prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, not necessarily that the person is innocent.
Sara Rehman
Nov 24, 2023

What is a "directed acquittal"?

It's when a judge orders an acquittal because the prosecution's evidence is insufficient to warrant a conviction.
Harlon Moss
Nov 24, 2023

Can an acquitted person be retried?

Generally, no. Under double jeopardy laws in many jurisdictions, a person cannot be tried again for the same crime after acquittal.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Is acquittal common in criminal trials?

It depends on the case and jurisdiction, but acquittals are less common than convictions.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Does acquittal affect civil liability?

No, a person can be acquitted criminally but still held liable in a civil lawsuit.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Can a person be discharged from employment?

Yes, it means they are formally released or fired from their job.
Harlon Moss
Nov 24, 2023

Can discharge be involuntary?

Yes, especially in contexts like employment or military service.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

What is an "honorable discharge"?

It's a discharge from military service under honorable conditions.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Can an acquittal be appealed?

In most legal systems, the prosecution cannot appeal an acquittal due to double jeopardy rules.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 24, 2023

What does "discharge" mean in the military?

It refers to the formal release of a service member from their military duties.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 24, 2023

Can a discharged employee be rehired?

Yes, depending on the circumstances and policies of the employer.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

What does "discharge" mean in legal terms?

It refers to the release of a debtor from their debt obligations, often in bankruptcy cases.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Is "discharge" only a legal term?

No, it can refer to release from obligations or duties in various contexts, like military service.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

What is a "medical discharge"?

It's when a patient is officially released from a hospital or medical care.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

Does discharge always imply misconduct?

No, it can be for various reasons, not necessarily due to misconduct.
Harlon Moss
Nov 24, 2023

Does a discharge from bankruptcy clear all debts?

Most debts are cleared, but some, like student loans or certain taxes, may not be discharged.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 24, 2023

What is a "jury acquittal"?

It's when a jury decides that a defendant is not guilty of the charges.
Harlon Moss
Nov 24, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.

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