Conviction vs Charged: What’s the Difference?

Conviction vs Charged: What's the Difference?

Have you or a loved one been charged with a crime? Does it feel like the charges are stacking up? Do you wonder what the difference is between a charge and a conviction?

Being charged with a crime can feel scary. So many factors determine the outcome of your case, from plea deals to a stellar defense. This leads to anxiety, uncertainty, and stress.

Staying informed helps you manage your case better. Being knowledgeable about the details surrounding criminal issues leads to greater levels of understanding. Read on to identify the difference between conviction vs charged.

Conviction vs Charged is a crucial distinction to understand when exploring the legal definitions of both. A charge is when an individual is accused of a crime. The government will attempt to prove the individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Being convicted of a crime is when an individual is found guilty of a crime, often by a jury. When an individual is charged, they can be arrested and tried. They can be acquitted if the government is not able to prove the individual’s guilt.

Whereas when an individual is convicted, they are serving whatever sentence the court has imposed. It’s a common misconception that a person is guilty simply because they are charged. But, that is not the case.

It’s important to understand the difference between the two to have a better understanding of the law.

Possible Consequences Depending on Being Convicted or Charged

Conviction and charges both refer to accusations made and the subsequent sentencing of a person accused of breaking the law. Consequences in terms of sentencing depend on the severity of the criminal charge. Below are some examples of possible consequences.

Jail Time

When it comes to going to jail time, being charged alone does not equate to any jail time. The defendant must be convicted of the crime to receive sentencing.

Being charged doesn’t guarantee to go to jail. It is because there are many variables that can lead to the defendant either being proven innocent or receiving probation instead. Even in cases where conviction does result in jail time, the amount of time served can vary depending on the crime and severity of the offense.

Paying Fines

If convicted, the guilty person is required to pay fines as a consequence. In this case, those charged with a crime may or may not need to pay fines depending on if they are found guilty or not.

Paying fines as a consequence of a conviction is quite severe. It can lead to additional consequences such as loss of employment or even jail time.


Probation is often ordered as a consequence of a conviction. This is usually done in lieu of jail time. It puts an individual under the supervision of a court-appointed probation officer who will monitor a person for a certain period of time.

Any breach of the conditions of the probation can lead to harsher punishments, such as being arrested and sent to jail.

Community Service

When it comes to community service as a consequence, a conviction and a charge can be drastically different. In some cases, a person may face a charge and never be convicted. If they choose to do community service in lieu of facing the formal court process, they can avoid a criminal conviction on their record.

In other cases, a person may be offered community service as an alternative to a conviction. If they complete a set duration of community service, their charge may be dropped.

Examining the Different Levels of Evidence Involved

When someone is charged with a crime, they are formally accused by the legal system. But this doesn’t mean they are guilty. They’re just yet to be proven innocent or guilty.

On the other hand, a conviction is when a court has found the accused to be guilty of a crime and a sentence has been handed down as punishment. To convict someone of a crime, a higher level of evidence is usually required. This evidence must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did in fact commit the crime.

Without this higher level of evidence, a conviction cannot happen, and a charge cannot be made. Therefore, it’s crucial to examine the different levels of evidence involved. 

Example Scenarios

There are many differences between conviction and being charged. One example scenario would be that a person is arrested and charged with a crime but is found not guilty by a jury in a trial. In this case, the person was charged but not convicted, as the jury found them innocent.

Another example scenario is that a person pleads guilty to the crime and is then convicted but doesn’t receive any punishment. In this scenario, the person was convicted but not charged, as there was no trial or jury.

Convictions and charges are completely determined by different legal processes, so it is important to understand the distinction between them. If you want to know more information about an inmate you know, you can locate them and go to Jail and Inmate Search to make your life easier to find them.

Exploring Their Relationship

Conviction and charge are two related concepts within the legal system, but they carry very different meanings. Exploring their relationship shines a light on why one person might be charged but not another or convicted after being charged. Charging someone involves linking a person to a crime.

Conviction, however, requires that person’s guilt has been legally proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This can occur via a plea agreement, guilty verdict, or jury decision. In order to be charged, there must be cause for the allegation, but this alone does not prove guilt.

Conviction requires more than just a charge to occur, it requires a court process and, ultimately, a finding of guilt. The relationship between conviction and charge is essential to understanding the outcome of a case. Charges alone do not prove guilt but must lead to conviction in order for a guilty sentence to be imposed.

Unpacking the Differences Between Conviction and Charge 

The difference in conviction vs charged is significant. Conviction means the court has found the individual guilty with the burden of proof lying on the prosecution. Being charged is the start of a criminal trial when the jury is called to determine an individual’s innocence or guilt.

For further information, contact a skilled lawyer who can explain the nuances of the legal process.

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