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1. in procedure, a discrepancy between what is charged or alleged and what is proved or offered as proof. A FATAL VARIANCE is, in both civil and criminal cases, a material and substantial variance: in criminal cases, it must also tend to mislead the defendant in making his or her defense, or tend to expose the defendant to the injury of double jeopardy. EXAMPLE: Neerja files a lawsuit against a package delivery service for damaging a package they delivered to her. At the trial, she offers proof to show that she never received the package. The difference between her original claim and the claim that she offers to prove constitutes a fatal variance, and Neerja’s case will probably be dismissed. 2. in zoning law, an exemption from the application of a zoning ordinance or regulation permitting a use that varies from that otherwise permitted. The exception is granted by the appropriate authority in special circumstances to protect against undue hardship wrought by strict enforcement. See nonconforming use. Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016
"Although Scheuneman couches his argument as a constructive indictment, his issue is better understood as a variance, an event that arises “when the facts proved at trial differ from those alleged in the indictment.” United States v. Longstreet, 567 F.3d 911, 918 (7th Cir.2009)."
"... In general, a variance will not constitute reversible error unless it “change[s] an essential or material element of the charge so as to cause prejudice to the defendant.” United States v. Cina, 699 F.2d 853, 857 (7th Cir.1983)"
- USA v Scheuneman, 712 F.3d 372 (7th Cir. 2013)