Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Directed Verdict Definition:

When the Court stops a trial determining that an essential fact has not been proven.

Related Terms: Evidence, Demurrer

A special intervention at trial occurring on the judge’s initiative or on a party’s motion, once the party with the burden of proof has closed his/her case, that the case be dismissed based on the allegation that the burden has not been met.

In a jury trial, the judge is the master of law and the gate-keeper of evidence, including the threshold of the burden of proof. If the Court is of the view that the evidence brought by the prosecutor (in a criminal case) or the plaintiff (in a civil case) has not met the burden of proof, the Court will “direct” the trial away from the jury and “direct a verdict” as to dismissal of a civil claim or the acquittal of an accused in a criminal matter.

In a criminal trial, this would result in an acquittal of the accused.

In a civil case, this would result in the action being dismissed against the plaintiff.

If a motion for a directed verdict is made and dismissed, the trial continues normally as if the motion was never made. 

Many jurisdictions have eliminated this nomenclature and have replaced it with the motion for acquittal or, in civil cases, a "no evidence" or "insufficient" evidence motion or a motion for dismissal of the plaintiff's action.

In 1998, Canada's Supreme Court decided, in Charemski, that a directed verdict can only be entertained in criminal matters if there is "no evidence" of an essential element of the offence.

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