Case adjudication is the formal resolution of a case by the pronouncement of a judgment or decree by the court. The term applies to both civil and criminal cases. The term implies that the court has held a hearing, heard all relevant factual issues and made a decision so it is no longer considering the case.
The courts resolve three types of cases through adjudication: those involving private parties, such as civil cases, those involving the government and private parties or criminal cases and those between public officials or bodies. The process involves notification of all interested parties along with opportunities to present arguments and evidence. Formal rules of evidence and procedure govern the process aimed at reaching a reasonable settlement, using a judge, jury or arbiter.
In certain locations, such as Florida, the judge has the option of settling a criminal case by withholding adjudication. In this case, the judge sentences the individual to a probationary sentence. Once the individual completes the terms of probation, the court closes the case without entering it into his record. While this option provides leeway for the judge and prevents the collateral damages of a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony, it is under attack. The legislature is enacting laws that specifically remove the option cases, such as those involving DUI, domestic abuse and capital offenses.