pros·​e·​cu·​tion | \ ˌprä-si-ˈkyü-shən How to pronounce prosecution (audio) \

Definition of prosecution

1 : the act or process of prosecuting specifically : the institution and continuance of a criminal suit involving the process of pursuing formal charges against an offender to final judgment
2 : the party by whom criminal proceedings are instituted or conducted
3 obsolete : pursuit

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Examples of prosecution in a Sentence

There has been an increase in prosecutions for gun-related crimes. The defendant is awaiting prosecution. The prosecution called their first witness. The prosecution rests, Your Honor. The defense told the jury that the prosecution had not proved its case.
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Recent Examples on the Web In a motion filed Wednesday, the federal prosecution team said that having jurors eat lunch away from the public and be accompanied in and out of the courthouse by US Marshals will safeguard them and the integrity of the trial. Sonia Moghe, CNN, "Prosecutors want jury to be anonymous in R. Kelly trial," 9 July 2020 In Arkansas, meanwhile, Peterson said the loss, the prosecution, the sentencing dispute and the waiting has taken its toll. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Re-opening federal death chamber: Victim opposition, pandemic threaten first execution in 17 years," 9 July 2020 The killing of George Floyd in police custody energized a movement to defund police departments, but the entire criminal justice system — from arrest to prosecution to sentencing to rehabilitation to re-entry — needs to be reimagined. Otis R. Taylor Jr.,, "San Quentin coronavirus outbreak underscores California’s cruel treatment of prisoners," 6 July 2020 Lucy writes and speaks widely on prosecution and criminal legal reform, and teaches those issues in New York State prisons. Lucy Lang, Wired, "Virtual Criminal Justice May Make the System More Equitable," 1 July 2020 Johnson was assigned the high-profile prosecution in June 2017 but had not set the case for trial. Lauren Mcgaughy, Dallas News, "Criminal cases against Texas AG Ken Paxton will move back to Collin County, judge decides," 25 June 2020 But Michael Vatis, a former head of the FBI’s computer crime program, said the additional factual allegations seem to strengthen the prosecution’s case. Washington Post, "Justice Department broadens case against Julian Assange," 25 June 2020 Stone’s prosecution had become the subject of controversy due to the Attorney General’s personal interference. Joyce White Vance, Time, "Americans Need to Know the Truth About William Barr's Friday Night Massacre. We Can't Afford to Wait," 22 June 2020 That means he cannot be retried for it on double jeopardy grounds, the defense and prosecution agreement notwithstanding. Bill Rankin, ajc, "Ga. Supreme Court: Not guilty means not guilty in DeKalb murder case," 16 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prosecution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of prosecution

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for prosecution

Time Traveler

The first known use of prosecution was in 1545

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Statistics for prosecution

Last Updated

12 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prosecution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for prosecution


How to pronounce prosecution (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prosecution

: the act or process of holding a trial against a person who is accused of a crime to see if that person is guilty
: the side of a legal case which argues that a person who is accused of a crime is guilty : the lawyer or lawyers who prosecute someone in a court case
formal : the act of doing or continuing to do something


pros·​e·​cu·​tion | \ ˌprä-si-ˈkyü-shən How to pronounce prosecution (audio) \

Kids Definition of prosecution

1 : the act of carrying on a legal action against a person accused of a crime in court
2 : the lawyers in a criminal case trying to prove that the accused person is guilty The prosecution will try to prove it was murder.


pros·​e·​cu·​tion | \ ˌprä-si-ˈkyü-shən How to pronounce prosecution (audio) \

Legal Definition of prosecution

1 : the act or process of prosecuting especially : the institution and carrying on of a criminal action involving the process of seeking formal charges against a person and pursuing those charges to final judgment
2 : the party by whom criminal proceedings are instituted or conducted — compare defense sense 3, plaintiff

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