Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


the reduction in severity of a penalty imposed by law.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Concurrent with the execution of the LPT/ADC, Maiden Bermuda and AII entered into the Commutation covering the following business reinsured by Maiden Bermuda under the AmTrust QS Agreement ('Commuted Business'):
The Resonance Center for Women, Family and Children's Services and Mental Health Association Oklahoma will serve as resource partners for the applicants of OCJR's commutation campaign.
The transient function h(t) (with respect to current or voltage) is written using discontinuous functions as consisting of two parts, corresponding to the circuits before and after commutation.
One logic-level input is provided for each of the six power MOSFETs in the 3-phase bridge, allowing motors to be driven with any commutation scheme defined by an external controller.
Their concept of optimized commutation has made an effort to reduce the pollution by using cleaner fuels, less harmful to the environment as it remains negligible amount of unburnt residues behind.
Indirect method reduces the torque ripple by making the incoming and outgoing phase currents change at the same rate during the commutation. Chen et al.
Obama's commutation total was less impressive as a share of federal prisoners (less than 1 percent) or as a share of the petitions he received (5.2 percent, which made him much more merciful than his four most recent predecessors, significantly more merciful than Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford, and somewhat less merciful than Richard Nixon).
Some 39 convicts have received their certificates of conditional and commutation pardons in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's order granting executive clemency to 127 convicts.
In recent years, a sizeable literature has been devoted to exploring the physical consequences of assuming nontrivial commutation relations among spacetime coordinates.
Combined with a diametrically magnetized permanent magnet, the device in a QFN28 5x5 mm package can be used to create a universal encoder for motor commutation and positioning.
In 2011, Professor Mark Osier established the first commutation clinic in the United States at the University of St.
Combined with a diametrically magnetized permanent magnet, in a QFN28 5 x 5mm package it can be used to create a robust, universal encoder for motor commutation and positioning.