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What is a Final Judgment?

Jodee Redmond
Jodee Redmond

A final judgment is a type of court order which is handed down by a judge at the end of a trial or a motion to dismiss a matter before the court. The judgment makes a final ruling on all the issues before the court and the case is settled. This document may also be referred to as a final decision or a final decree in some situations.

The final judgment may be appealed to a higher court if one of the parties feels that the judge hearing the case made an error in interpreting the law. For example, in a final judgment handed down in a criminal trial, the prosecution or the defense each have the right to appeal the sentence if either one feels that it was not appropriate. For example, the prosecution may ask that the sentence imposed be more severe.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The defense may also appeal the final judgment to attempt to show that the sentence handed down was too severe, given the facts of the case. Depending on the country and the sentence, appeals of the sentence can be a common occurrence. The process of appealing a final judgment can take years, and the sentence is not carried out until all of the appeals in the case have been heard or dismissed.

A final decree, or final judgment, is also written when a couple divorces. If the matter went to a hearing to determine how the marital property should be divided or which parent should have custody of the children, this information would be set out in the judge's decision. If the judge determined that one of the spouses should be granted financial support, this provision would also be covered in the final judgment.

This type of court order is also used in civil matters. If a lawsuit is brought against a person or a corporation and the matter goes to the trial stage, the court will issue a judgment in favor of one of the two parties. If the plaintiff was successful, the judgment will set out the amount of monetary damages the defendant is required to pay. Interest on the money owing may also be covered in the document, as well as whether the losing party is required to pay a certain amount for costs to the winner.

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