Criminal Law: Difference between Acquittal and Discharge


February 14, 2018

Difference between Acquittal and Discharge




A person who has been acquitted cannot be arrested for the same case in which he has been acquitted by the Court. A discharged person can be rearrested and committed for a further enquiry.
An acquittal may also result from absence of the complainant, or withdrawal or a compounding of offence. When a Magistrate proceeds with less serious offence, it amounts to a discharge of graver charge and the accused can be directed to be committed.
An order of acquittal is a judicial decision taken after full inquiry establishing the innocence of accused. An order of discharge simply implies that there is no prima facie evidence against the accused to justify further enquiry in relation to the charge; such order does not establish anything regarding the guilt of the accused.
An acquittal bars second trial on the same facts and for the same offence, or on the same facts for any other offence for which different charges from the one made against the accused might have been made under Section 221(1) of CrPC. A discharge does not bar the institution of fresh proceedings when new or better evidence becomes available against the accused.


Section 221(1) of CrPC– This provides that if a single act or series of acts is of such a nature that it is doubtful for which of several offences, the accused may be charged the he may be tried at once: or he may be charged in the alternative with having committed some one of the said offences.