In law, a commutation is the reduction of a punishment for a crime. After getting a commutation, an incarcerated person's original sentence of ten years in prison might be reduced to five years.
A commutation is different from a pardon, which eliminates the actual conviction. With a commutation, that record of conviction stays the same, but the punishment is reduced or even eliminated. A judge might issue a commutation after someone has expressed remorse or exhibited model behavior while being incarcerated. Commutation comes from a Latin root that means "to change."