Adjudication vs Conviction
Identifying the difference between Adjudication and Conviction is indeed a dilemma to those of us who are not in the legal field. When asked to distinguish Adjudication from Conviction, we suddenly find ourselves before a stumbling block. Aside from the fact that the two words sound alike, it doesn’t help our situation further when we recount the number of times people have used the terms interchangeably. In fact, many might wonder if there is even a difference at all. Generally, the term Conviction refers to the outcome of a legal action. Likewise, Adjudication has also been used to refer to the final outcome of a court trial. Herein lies the confusion. The key to identifying the distinction between the terms lies in understanding their definitions carefully.
What is Adjudication?
As mentioned above, although the term Adjudication has been referred to, and defined in some sources, as the final determination given by a court of law or the pronouncement of a judgement, it encompasses much more. Adjudication is defined in law as the legal process of resolving a dispute. This simple definition suggests that the pronouncement of the final decision is but one stage in a series of stages that collectively make up a court trial or hearing. Think of it as the process followed by a court when conducting a trial. The process commences by first informing all parties, through adequate notice, of the dispute, and thereafter, the parties will appear on a specified date and present their case by way of evidence and arguments. During this process, the court, typically the judge and/or jury, will hear the case, review the evidence, apply the applicable law to the facts of the case and resolve questions of fact and/or law. The process ends with the final determination given by either the judge or jury and the appropriate judgement or sentence ordered thereafter. Adjudication, therefore, encompasses the entire process adopted to resolve a legal dispute, which culminates in the pronouncement of the final decision or outcome.
What is Conviction?
Conviction, in contrast, refers only to the final outcome in a case, more specifically, a criminal trial. The concept of a Conviction is typically connected with criminal cases as opposed to civil proceedings. Generally, in a criminal trial, the ultimate goal of the judge and/or jury is to determine if the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime with which he/she is charged. A Conviction is the determination made by the court at the conclusion of a criminal trial, finding the defendant guilty of the crime. Traditionally, the term Conviction has been interpreted as the state of being found or proven guilty or the act of declaring a person guilty of a crime. The primary goal of the prosecution in a criminal trial is to prove to the court beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime and thereby secure a Conviction.
What is the difference between Adjudication and Conviction?
• Adjudication refers to the legal process of resolving a dispute between two or more parties. It includes the pronouncement of the final outcome of the case.
• A Conviction, in contrast, represents the outcome of a criminal trial. More specifically, it is the judgement given by the court finding the defendant guilty of the crime.
• A Conviction is part of the Adjudication process. Further, a Conviction is associated with criminal trials.
• In contrast, Adjudication includes both civil and criminal disputes.
Images Courtesy: ICJ and The trial and conviction of Kate Webster, July 1879 via Wikicommons (Public Domain)