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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 ?
A commutation is the modification of an offender's sentence to a lesser one, usually to time served, therefore making the offender eligible for release.
Short [Assistant State's Attorney] to the Illinois State Board of Pardons, October 2, 1908, petition for commutation of the sentence to imprisonment for life of Andrew Williams, Executive Clemency Files, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Chicago Times-Herald, February 5, 1899.
However, in a commutation, the payee is not paid by a third party.
8 s), the AC voltage drop causes commutation failures, which are represented in the simulation as a short circuit across the inverter.
One last possibility relates to the way in which the studies included the age variable in their models; the other research treats age as a continuous variable, which may capture a non-linear association between age and commutation as a weak linear trend.
In addition to the obvious advantages of being on the north commutation route from Atlantic City, we also love the fact that our 16 stores count seniors from the local active-adult developments as core customers," said Michael Perlman, the Holualoa vice president who over-sees its New Jersey properties.
But Illinois Governor Ryan's monumental commutation of 167 death sentences on his final day in office drew world attention to the gruesome torture routinely inflicted in police interrogation rooms on the south side of Chicago.
22 between the Cuban state airline and Iberia provides for the following systems: RESIBER (inventory control); Check-In (automatic passenger check-in); ET (electronic ticketing); SAMI (extra income aid) and message commutation.
Artist Steve Des Landes has taken face and hand casts of pupils from three schools to create a "wall of fame" for the new reception at the city centre Commutation Plaza complex.
This performance is achieved in a compact design using a patented "S' tooth harmonic drive gear coupled to a brushless DC pancake motor with integral electronic commutation and a high resolution encoder.
The New York Post, quoting unidentified sources, reported yesterday that the sentence commutation was part of the investigation.
The new guidelines allow a defendant facing the death penalty at least 120 days notice of his or her execution and 30 days to file a petition for commutation of the sentence.