Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Commutation Definition:

The reduction of a sentence by the government.

Related Terms: Pardon

In People v Mata, Justice Kilbride of the Supreme Court of Illinois wrote:

"A commutation is defined as the change of a defendant's punishment to a less severe one.

"A commutation removes the judicially imposed sentence and replaces it with a lesser sentence imposed by the Governor."

In 2007, Justice Knoll of the Supreme Court of Louisiana wrote, in People v Dick:

"The power of commutation is the power to reduce punishment from a greater to a lesser sentence...

"Re-sentencing these offenders in order to retroactively apply the more lenient penalty provisions to offenders whose convictions and sentences are final is, in effect, a commutation of a valid and final sentence, which falls within the executive branch of government, not the judicial branch."


  • People v. Mata, 842 NE 2d 686 (2005)
  • State v. Dick, 951 So. 2d 124

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