CONVICTION, practice. A condemnation. In its most extensive sense this word signifies the giving judgment against a defendant, whether criminal or civil. In a more limited sense, it means, the judgment given against the criminal. And in its most restricted sense it is a record of the summary proceedings upon any penal statute before one or more justices of the peace, or other persons duly authorized, in a case where the offender has been convicted and sentenced: this last is usually termed a summary conviction.
2. As summary. convictions have been introduced in derogation of the common law, and operate to the exclusion of trial by jury, the courts have required that the strict letter of the statute should be observed 1 Burr. Rep. 613 and that the magistrates should have been guided by rules similar to those adopted by the common law, in criminal prosecution, and founded in natural justice; unless when the statute dispenses with the form of stating them.
3. The general rules in relation to convictions are, first, it must be under the hand and seal of the magistrate before whom it is taken; secondly, it must be in the present tense, but this, perhaps, ought to extend only to the judgment; thirdly, it must be certain; fourthly, although it is well to lay the offence to be contra pacem, this is not indispensable; fifthly, a conviction cannot be good in part and bad in part.
4. A conviction usually consists of six parts; first, the information; which should contain, 1. The day when it was taken. 2. The place where it was taken. 3. The name of the informer. 4. The name and style of the justice or justices to whom it was given. 5. The name of the offender. 6. The time of committing the offence. 7. The place where the offence was committed. 8. An exact decription of the offence.
5. Secondly, the summons.
6. Thirdly, the appearance or non-appearance of the defendant.
7. Fourthly, his defence or confessions.
8. Fifthly, the evidence. Dougl. 469; 2 Burr. 1163; 4 Burr. 2064.
9. Sixthly, the judgment or adjudication, which should state, 1. That the defendant is convicted. 2. The forfeiture or penalty. Vide Bosc. on Conviction; Espinasse on Penal Actions; 4 Dall. 266; 3 Yeates, 475; 1 Yeates, 471. As to the effect of a conviction as evidence in a civil case, see 1 Phil. Ev. 259; 8 Bouv. Inst. 3183.