Scotland Has 3 Verdicts: Guilty, Not Guilty and Not Proven


In every country in the world except one, there are two verdicts when it comes to criminal trials: guilty and not guilty. In Scotland, however, there’s a third verdict: not proven. What’s really strange is that the not proven verdict has never really been defined, and it has the exact same legal outcome as the not guilty verdict, meaning the defendant is acquitted. The not proven verdict originated in the early 18th century, when jurors in Scotland were expected only to determine whether individual factual allegations were proven or not proven, rather than to rule on a defendant's guilt. Today, Scots believe the not proven verdict should be done away with, since it’s essentially a not guilty verdict in disguise. In 2005, a proposal was made in the University of Chicago Law Review to introduce the not proven verdict into the United States. So far, that hasn’t happened.