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Modification, exchange, or substitution.

Commutation is the replacement of a greater amount by something lesser. To commute periodic payments means to substitute a single payment for a number of payments, or to come to a "lump sum" settlement.

In Criminal Law, commutation is the substitution of a lesser punishment for a greater one. Contrasted with clemency, which is an act of grace eliminating a sentence or punishment, commutation is the modification or reduction of a punishment.

The change from consecutive prison sentences to concurrent sentences is a commutation of punishment.


n. the act of reducing a sentence resulting from a criminal conviction by the executive clemency of the Governor of the State, or President of the United States in the case of federal crimes. This is not the same as a pardon which wipes out the conviction or the actual or potential charge (as when President Gerald R. Ford pardoned ex-President Richard M. Nixon even without charges having been officially made--a rare instance). A pardon implies either that the conviction was wrong, that there has been complete rehabilitation of the party, or that he/she has lived an exemplary life for many years and deserves to have his/her name cleared in old age. Commutation implies the penalty was excessive or there has been rehabilitation, reform, or other circumstances such as good conduct or community service. Commutation is sometimes used when there is evidence that the defendant was not guilty but it would prove embarrassing to admit an outright error by the courts. (See: executive clemency, pardon)

See: clemency, compensation, compromise, exchange, immunity, mutuality, replacement, subrogation


the reduction in severity of a penalty imposed by law.

COMMUTATION, punishments. The change of a punishment to which a person has been condemned into a less severe one. This can be granted only by the executive authority in which the pardoning power resides.

References in periodicals archive ?
UVW commutation signals available for any pole pair count ranging from 1 to 16.
He granted executive mercy again in May 2011, with eight pardons and no commutations, and granted five more pardons along with his first sentence commutation in November 2011 (Pardons by Obama [2009-2014]; Commutations by Obama [2009-2015]).
If voters repealed the death penalty, commutations of existing death sentences could follow.
Improving a reinsurer's underwriting results, since the price of the commutation is often less than the carried reserves.
Patrick approved the commutation request of Deanne Hamilton, who has served more than half of a 7-1/2 year sentence on three drug charges.
While governors have occasionally used their commutation powers to empty death row, blanket commutations are rare.
Giving details, Radio Pakistan's spokesman said in Islamabad that over 280 million rupees were paid to more than 140 retired employees during the financial year 2013-14 in the heads of commutation and restoration of pension after 15 years.
Delay caused by circumstances beyond the prisoners' control mandates commutation of death sentence," the SC bench had said.
Chennai : Renewing his demand for abolishing death penalty, DMK chief M Karunanidhi yesterday made a fresh pitch for a state cabinet meeting to adopt a resolution recommending commutation of the death sentence awarded to three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The mercy petition, filed by Punjab militant Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, was rejected by the apex court's Justice JS Singhvi who said "Petitioners have failed to make out a case for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment on grounds of delay, hence Bhullar's mercy plea stands dismissed.
of Palermo, Italy) constructs the Hamiltonian H of the classical system S that can satisfy the canonical commutation relation (CCR) or the anti-commutation relation (CAR), and applies the framework to love affairs, competition between species, levels of welfare for bacteria, and stock markets.
Aaron's case received renewed attention in May after ProPublica reporter Dafna Linzer revealed that he probably would be a free man today if the Office of the Pardon Attorney had not withheld crucial facts about his commutation petition from President George W.