Reversible Error Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Reversible Error, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Reversible Error?

(n) Reversible errors are the mistakes, omissions etc. entered in a trail, which has significantly contributed in the decision making of the court, which need to be corrected for a fair and proper outcome of the legal proceedings

History and Meaning of Reversible Error

Reversible error is a legal term used in court proceedings to identify errors that have occurred during a case and have affected the outcome of a final decision. The concept of reversible error originated from the common law and has been used for centuries in Western legal systems. Errors can occur due to a variety of reasons such as incorrect jury instructions, incorrect admission or exclusion of evidence, improper conduct from prosecution or defense attorneys, or improper arguments in court, among others.

When an error is identified, it is brought to the attention of the court by attorneys, judges, or the presiding judge in the case. The error must be of significant importance and very likely to have had an impact on the final outcome or the judge's decision. If the error is deemed significant, the judge may reverse the decision or require the case to be retried.

Examples of Reversible Error

  1. During a criminal trial, the prosecutor makes an improper comment that implies the defendant is guilty of additional crimes that are not part of the charges. Defense counsel objects, but the judge allows the comment to stand. This can be a reversible error because it could influence the jury's decision and affect the defendant's right to a fair trial.

  2. A judge gives incorrect instructions to the jury regarding the criteria for a conviction. The prosecution is then able to convince the jury to convict on lesser charges that do not require as much evidence as the original charge. This is reversible error because the conviction would not have been reached if the correct instructions were given.

  3. In reviewing an appeal of a civil lawsuit, the appeals court finds clear and convincing evidence that the presiding judge disregarded key elements of testimony, resulting in an improper verdict. The appeals court might declare a reversible error and order a new trial.

Legal Terms Similar to Reversible Error

  1. Harmless error: a legal error made during a trial that, while against the rules, was harmless enough not to impact the outcome of the case.
  2. Prejudicial error: an error that may have prejudiced a party's case and influenced the verdict.
  3. Plain error: a mistake that is so clear-cut that it deserves to be reversed - this might include obvious errors that impact the constitutional or fundamental rights of a individual during a trial.
  4. Collateral estoppel: a legal bar preventing relitigation of an issue that has already been decided by a court.