Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Amnesty Definition:

A general pardon extended by the government to those persons facing prosecution for, or convicted of specified criminal offences.

Related Terms: Pardon

Usually, the amnesty occurs by statute under which are erased the convictions, and cancels the prosecutions in regards to certain specified criminal offences.

Jowitt's 1959 law dictionary defines an amnesty as:

"... an act of pardon or oblivion by which crimes against the government up to a certain date are so obliterated that they can never be brought into charge."

Generally, amnesties are for offences against the State such as political crimes, income tax offences or other traditional criminal offences.

Most amnesties eliminate any reference to the crime in a criminal record.

French: amnistie.


  • Bromberger, J., Petit dictionnaire juridique, 2e edition (Paris: Libraries Techniques, 1967), pages 27-28.
  • Walsh, C., Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell Limited, 1959), page 114

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