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Legal Dictionary

commutation

Legal Definition of commutation

Related terms


Definition of commutation

Etymology

    From French commutacion, from Latin commūtātiōnem.

Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA: /k'mjuːˈteɪʃən/

Noun

commutation (plural commutations)

  1. (obsolete) A passing from one state to another; change; alteration; mutation.
  2. (obsolete) The act of giving one thing for another; barter; exchange.
  3. (formal or archaic) Substitution of one thing for another; interchange.
  4. Specifically, the substitution of one kind of payment for another, especially a switch to monetary payment from obligations of labour.
  5. (law) The change to a lesser penalty or punishment by the State

    * 1992, Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety, Harper Perennial 2007, p. 23:
    Monsieur the Marquis de Sade [was] now holed up in one of his châteaux while his wife worked for the commutation of a sentence passed on him recently for poisoning and buggery.

Further reading

Commutation or remission is the lessening of a penalty without forgiveness for the crime; the beneficiary is still considered guilty of the offense.

This term differs subtly from country-to-country, but generally:

Commutation: Substituting the penalty for a crime with the penalty for another, whilst still remaining guilty of the original crime (e.g., in the USA, someone who is guilty of murder may have their sentence commuted to life imprisonment rather than death)

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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