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

One of his achievements as Conmebol president was to gain diplomatic immunity for its headquarters in Asunción to protect it from prosecution. Washington Post, "Nicolás Leoz, South American soccer executive, dies under house arrest at 90," 29 Aug. 2019 That deal had also shielded any potential conspirators from prosecution. Time, "23 of Jeffrey Epstein's Accusers Finally Got Their Day in Court. Here's What They Said," 28 Aug. 2019 The Dallas District Attorney’s office was reticent about pursuing those expenses as part of its prosecution because board members signed off on the credit card statements, Costa said. Miles Moffeit, Dallas News, "Resign or be recalled, DeSoto residents tell councilwoman; her colleagues remain silent," 21 Aug. 2019 To break the stalemate, some conspirators are looking to the U.S. to devise a plan to protect government insiders who turn against Maduro from future prosecution. Joshua Goodman,, "U.S. talks secretly to Venezuela socialist party boss," 19 Aug. 2019 The court may order suspension of prosecution if the court finds a violation not to be of a serious nature. Denise Coffey,, "CCDL Weighs In On New Gun Laws," 19 Aug. 2019 Understandably, criminal offenders may be hesitant to come to the local police station or interact with law enforcement – even if they are promised exemption from prosecution for weapon possession. Lacey Wallace, The Conversation, "Could a national gun buyback program reduce the 393 million guns on America’s streets?," 4 Aug. 2019 There are exceptions and Congress could theoretically extend the time limit, but generally, if the government doesn't bring charges within five years, an offender is safe from prosecution. Emily Tillett, CBS News, "What is the statute of limitations on potential charges against Trump?," 25 July 2019 Defense attorney Kevin Spellacy countered saying that none of the prosecution’s 16 witnesses provided any testimony to show that Coleman committed a crime. Evan Macdonald,, "Jury deliberating in trial for Cleveland police supervisor charged in chase from ’137 shots’ case," 19 July 2019

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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Statistics for prosecution

Last Updated

3 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for prosecution

The first known use of prosecution was in 1545

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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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Comments on prosecution

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