Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure
Rule 26. Judgment; presentence report; sentence hearing; sentence
Rule 26.1. Definitions; scope
(1) “Judgment” means the adjudication of the court based upon a plea of guilty by the defendant, upon the verdict of the jury, or upon its own finding following a nonjury trial, that the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
(2) “Sentence” means the pronouncement by the court of the penalty imposed upon the defendant after a judgment of guilty.
(3) “Determination of guilt” means a verdict of guilty by a jury, a finding of guilty by a court following a nonjury trial, or the acceptance by the court of a plea of guilty.
(b) SCOPE. This rule shall apply to capital cases only to the extent that the procedure in capital cases is not otherwise specified by law.
The Alabama courts do not make a clear distinction between “judgment” and “sentence.” Alabama decisions define judgment to mean the decision or sentence of the law, pronounced by the court. Gentry v. State, 35 Ala.App. 627, 51 So.2d 558 (1951); Wright v. State, 103 Ala. 95, 15 So. 506 (1893); Gray v. State, 55 Ala. 86 (1876).
When a defendant has been tried by a jury, the court’s judgment must be based on the jury’s verdict. Marable v. State, 229 Ala. 435, 157 So. 861 (1934); Stephens v. State, 22 Ala.App. 533, 118 So. 231, cert. denied, 218 Ala. 168, 118 So. 232 (1928). Where the defendant pleads guilty, judgment is based solely upon that plea. Knowles v. State, 280 Ala. 406, 194 So.2d 562 (1967).
In subsection (2) the term “sentence” as defined in this rule is intended to include any form of punishment and/or required action by the defendant that is ordered by the judge or required by law by virtue of the conviction, including probation, even where imposition of sentence must be suspended in order to place a person on probation.
This rule defines “determination of guilt.” There is no absolute requirement in Alabama that the court enter a formal adjudication of guilty upon the record where the sentence is in compliance with a verdict of guilty, the reasoning being that a judgment of guilt is implied from the sentence. Thames v. State, 12 Ala.App. 307, 68 So. 474 (1915); Shirley v. State, 144 Ala. 35, 40 So. 269 (1906); Driggers v. State, 123 Ala. 46, 26 So. 512 (1898). A formal adjudication of guilt is required for the smooth operation of the rule. This is in keeping with dictum in Driggers that, “[t]he judgment entry in all criminal cases where there is a conviction should recite in express words that the defendant is adjudged guilty by the court as found by the jury. There should always be the judgment of the court upon his guilt.” 123 Ala. 46, at 48, 26 So. 512, at 513.
The last sentence of paragraph (b)—“otherwise specified by the law”— refers to: Ala.Code 1975, §§ 13A-5-31 through 13A-5-36, as may be modified in Beck v. State, 396 So.2d 645 (Ala.1980); and Ala.Code 1975, §§ 13A-5-42 through 13A-5-53.
The term “judgment” as used in the specific statutes relating to appeals shall continue to mean from the date sentence is pronounced. See Ala.Code 1975, §§ 12-14-70(e) and 12-12-70.