Guilty or Not Guilty? Are there any other options?

July 25, 2015

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

In Indiana, generally a criminal jury is charged with deciding whether an individual before them is not guilty or guilty. In some limited instances, a jury has other options based on an individual’s mental capacity. But what if there was another option? In Scotland, for example, their system is somewhat unique in that it provides for three options: guilty, not guilty, and not proven. The “not proven” option is a version of acquittal that specifies that the government has not met their burden of proof; rather than “not guilty” which indicates the jury’s belief that no crime actual took place. The Scottish government has recently addressed whether this third option should remain a part of their system. See (last visited July 22, 2015).

Whether the Scots elect to keep that third “not proven” verdict or not, maybe it should be considered in Indiana. Under Indiana law, the jury is the decider of the law and the facts. Ind. Const. Article 1, Section 19. If that is the case, then why not allow them to expressly decide and tell the State it has not met its high burden to prove criminal liability? Perhaps Hoosiers and our Legislature should consider making this a part of our system.

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