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Not proven is a type of verdict in Scottish law. Out of the country, the "not proven" verdict may be referred to as the Scottish verdict, and in Scotland itself it may be referred to colloquially as the bastard verdict, which was a term coined by Sir Walter Scott, who was sheriff in the court of Selkirk.
Scottish law is distinct from English law, and this is one of the differences. Juries may convict with a guilty verdict or they may acquit (see below)). A criminal case jury consists of 15 jurors, and make their decision by a simple majority vote: eight votes are necessary and sufficient for the verdict "guilty", which has replaced the older verdict "proven".
In Scotland there are two forms of acquittal:
- Not guilty means the accused is innocent, in the opinion of the jury.
- Not proven means the prosecution has failed to prove their case, but the jury has disagreed as to the innocence of the accused.
- Scotsman.com "Bastard Verdict"
- The Scottish criminal jury: A very peculiar institution[dead link], Peter Duff, 62 Law & Contemp. Probs. 173 Spring 1999