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Impeachment vs. Conviction: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 12, 2023
Impeachment is the formal charge of wrongdoing against a public official; Conviction is the formal declaration of guilt after a trial.

Key Differences

Impeachment is a process to bring charges against a public official, suggesting they committed an offense while in office. Conviction, on the other hand, is the conclusion of a trial process, where the charged individual is found guilty.
Impeachment serves as an accusation and is the first step in potentially removing an official from office. While Conviction refers to the final decision, establishing guilt or innocence, which may lead to penalties or sentences.
The Impeachment process doesn't necessarily result in removal from office but signifies a formal charge. Conviction following an impeachment can lead to removal and other repercussions.
In the context of U.S. presidents, Impeachment is initiated in the House of Representatives, while Conviction requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.
Impeachment is inherently political, as it's driven by legislative bodies. Conviction, especially in criminal courts, is a legal determination made based on evidence and legal standards.

Comparison Chart


Formal accusation.
Formal declaration of guilt.


Can lead to trial.
Results in penalties or sentences.


Primarily for public officials.
Applicable in general legal context.

Body Responsible

Usually a legislative body (e.g., House of Representatives in the U.S.).
Court or, in case of impeachment trials, the Senate in the U.S.


Does not guarantee removal from office.
Establishes guilt and can result in removal or other penalties.

Impeachment and Conviction Definitions


A formal process by which an official is accused and tried for wrongdoing.
The impeachment hearings were televised nationally.


A formal declaration that someone is guilty of a crime.
His conviction led to a five-year prison sentence.


To make an accusation against
Impeach someone of a crime.


A record of having been found guilty of an offense.
His prior convictions were brought up in court.


To bring formal charges against (a public official) for wrongdoing while in office.


The act of finding a person guilty of a crime.
The trial ended in his conviction on all charges.


To raise doubts about; discredit or disparage
Impeach a witness's credibility.
Impeach someone's character.


A final determination in a legal proceeding.
The conviction was later overturned on appeal.


(countable) The act of calling into question or challenging the accuracy or propriety of something.


The judgment of a jury or judge that a person is guilty of a crime as charged.


A demonstration in a court of law, or before another finder of fact, that a witness was ingenuine before, and is therefore less likely to tell the truth now.


The state of being found or proved guilty
Evidence that led to the suspect's conviction.


An accusation that a person has committed a crime against the state, such as treason.


The act or process of convincing.


The act of impeaching or charging a public official with misconduct, especially if serious, often with the aim of having the official dismissed from office.


The state or appearance of being convinced
She spoke with real conviction on the matter.


(uncountable) The state of being impeached.


A fixed or strong belief.


Hindrance; impediment; obstruction.


(countable) A firmly held belief.


The act of impeaching, or the state of being impeached
Willing to march on to Calais,Without impeachment.


(countable) A judgement of guilt in a court of law.


A calling to account; arraignment; especially, of a public officer for maladministration.
The consequence of Coriolanus' impeachment had like to have been fatal to their state.


(uncountable) The state of being found or proved guilty.


A calling in question as to purity of motives, rectitude of conduct, credibility, etc.; accusation; reproach; as, an impeachment of motives.


(uncountable) The state of being wholly convinced.


A formal document charging a public official with misconduct in office


The act of convicting; the act of proving, finding, or adjudging, guilty of an offense.
The greater certainty of conviction and the greater certainty of punishment.


The act of accusing a public official of misconduct.
The House passed articles of impeachment against the president.


A judgment of condemnation entered by a court having jurisdiction; the act or process of finding guilty, or the state of being found guilty of any crime by a legal tribunal.
Conviction may accrue two ways.


A charge of misconduct made against the holder of a public office.
Several members called for the governor's impeachment.


The act of convincing of error, or of compelling the admission of a truth; confutation.
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.


The act of challenging the validity or authenticity of something.
The defense's impeachment of the witness's testimony was effective.


The state of being convinced or convicted; strong persuasion or belief; especially, the state of being convicted of sin, or by one's conscience.
To call good evil, and evil good, against the conviction of their own consciences.
And did you presently fall under the power of this conviction?


A mechanism to maintain the integrity of governing institutions.
Impeachment ensures that officials can be held accountable.


An unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence


(criminal law) a final judgment of guilty in a criminal case and the punishment that is imposed;
The conviction came as no surprise


A firmly held belief or opinion.
She spoke with conviction about the need for change.


What initiates the impeachment process?

The process typically begins with an accusation or charge against a public official.

Does a conviction always mean imprisonment?

No, conviction determines guilt, but the penalty can vary from fines to imprisonment.

Is impeachment a trial?

Impeachment is more of an accusation, which can lead to a trial.

Can impeachment happen to any public official?

While procedures vary, impeachment usually targets higher-ranking officials.

What's the difference between conviction in court and in impeachment trials?

In court, it's a legal judgment. In impeachment trials, it's often a political decision.

What happens after a conviction?

It leads to a sentence, which can be a fine, imprisonment, or other penalties.

Are convictions always for criminal offenses?

Most often, but conviction can also refer to firmly held beliefs.

Why is impeachment considered a political process?

Because it's conducted by elected representatives in legislative bodies.

Who can impeach the U.S. president?

The House of Representatives can initiate impeachment.

Does conviction always follow impeachment?

No, impeachment is an accusation; conviction requires a separate process.

Can impeachment be appealed?

It's a political process, so traditional appeals don't apply like in courts.

Has a U.S. president ever been removed through impeachment?

No U.S. president has been removed; some were impeached but not convicted.

How many votes are needed for impeachment?

It varies; in the U.S. House, a simple majority is required.

What rights do individuals have after a conviction?

Rights can be limited, but it varies by jurisdiction and offense.

What evidentiary standards apply in a conviction?

In criminal cases, it's usually "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Can impeachment occur posthumously?

Generally, impeachment targets living officials, so posthumous proceedings are rare.

What's the societal impact of a conviction?

It can lead to legal repercussions and social stigma.

Is a conviction always permanent?

No, some convictions can be overturned on appeal or expunged.

Can someone with a conviction hold public office?

Laws vary, but many jurisdictions restrict or bar individuals with certain convictions.

Why is impeachment important in a democracy?

It serves as a check on power and holds officials accountable.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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