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Blameworthy; culpable; having committed a tort or crime; devoid of innocence.

An individual is guilty if he or she is responsible for a delinquency or a criminal or civil offense. When an accused is willing to accept legal responsibility for a criminal act, he or she pleads guilty. Similarly, a jury returns a verdict of guilty upon finding that a defendant has committed a crime. In the event that a jury is not convinced that a defendant has committed a crime, jurors can return a verdict of not guilty, which does not mean that the individual is innocent or that the jurors are so convinced, but rather that they do not believe sufficient evidence has been presented to prove that the defendant is guilty.

In civil lawsuits, the term guilty does not imply criminal responsibility but refers to mis-conduct.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


adj. having been convicted of a crime or having admitted the commission of a crime by pleading "guilty" (saying you did it). A defendant may also be found guilty by a judge after a plea of "no contest," or in Latin "nolo contendere." The term "guilty" is also sometimes applied to persons against whom a judgment has been found in a lawsuit for a civil wrong, such as negligence or some intentional act like assault or fraud, but that is a confusing misuse of the word since it should only apply to a criminal charge. (See: admission of guilt, cop a plea, plea bargain)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


the plea by an accused that he accepts that he committed the offence charged or the finding to that effect by a court or jury. See also NOT GUILTY, NOT PROVEN.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

GUILTY. The state or condition of a person who has committed a crime, misdemeanor or offence.
     2. This word implies a malicious intent, and must be applied to something universally allowed to be a crime. Cowp. 275.
     3. In pleading, it is a plea by which a defendant who is charged with a crime, misdemeanor or tort, admits or confesses it. In criminal proceedings, when the accused is arraigned, the clerk asks him,: How say you, A B, are you guilty or not guilty?" His answer, which is given ore tenus, is called his plea; and when he admits the charge in the indictment he answers or pleads guilty.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
This is a fast and guiltily fun read that is sure to appeal to readers clamoring for more to satisfy their chick-lit fix.
And while I'm happy to leave tactics like "mass execution" and "ethnic cleansing" to the dictator, I'm guiltily disappointed to find that "destroy property" and "intimidation" are off-limits to me.
But I wonder whether the real charm of our electronic communication-both for him, and guiltily, for myself as well--is the extreme pleasure of nattering on endlessly without any of those pesky interruptions from the listener that so often characterize person-to-person conversation.
The architectural subject of Imperial Hotel, 2004, is painted so that its contours begin to melt into the surroundings, as if it were sweating guiltily in the island heat or collapsing into entropic diffusion.
The guiltily responsible personnel of the United Nations are far worse than those rats and fleas for two reasons: First, they have already caused mankind more suffering; and second, they know what they are doing, while the rats and fleas do not."
After guiltily throwing away a half used carton of soup last night, I woke up this morning to the headline that Britons discard 20 billion [pounds sterling] worth of food every year.
Recently, I became guiltily aware of how little time I spend with him and that I was not returning his overt displays of affection.
However, they were guiltily singing La Marseillaise at Cantor and IG, where much of the patriotic money had gone.
When I last saw him, Bayard joked with me, ambivalently and a bit guiltily, and we hugged.
Arnold admits all this (and he guiltily recalls the time when, contrary to his usual custom, he killed a brown trout--as his bewildered 12-year-old son looked on).
Y.S.K.O.V.'s narrative--two guys attempt to travel the world, giving away thousands of guiltily gotten dollars to whomever they decide deserves or needs it--begins on the cover, continues onto the inside front, and proceeds without a break until the final page.
Some of us parents who felt lucky just to get the family out the door on a Sunday morning and who were trying to keep the children reasonably quiet would clench our teeth when the doors were closed; we would exchange a roll of the eyes or grumble briefly and guiltily, feeling tom about thinking uncharitably about our fellow parishioners.