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What Is Count in Criminal Litigation?

In criminal litigation, a count refers to a specific charge or allegation brought against a defendant in an indictment or information. In common law jurisdictions like the United Kingdom and the United States, criminal charges are typically divided into separate counts, each specifying a particular offence.

A count provides a clear and distinct description of the alleged criminal act committed by the defendant. It outlines the elements of the offence and serves as a basis for the prosecution to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The number of counts in a case can vary depending on the complexity of the alleged criminal activity and the specific charges brought against the defendant.

For example, in a case involving theft, there might be separate counts for each instance of stolen property, specifying the date, location, and details of each offence. Each count is treated as a separate charge and must be proven individually by the prosecution.

During a trial, the jury or judge will consider each count separately and render a verdict based on the evidence presented for each specific charge. The outcome of the trial may involve convictions on some counts and acquittals on others, depending on whether the prosecution successfully proves the elements of each offence beyond a reasonable doubt.

You can learn more about this topic with our Criminal Practice notes.

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