Many people are curious about a commutation of sentence, and what it actually means. Basically, there is no impact on whether a defendant is guilty; it is simply a reduction in the sentence given a defendant by the governor of the state. A type of clemency, a state’s governor may reduce a defendant’s sentence, for example from 20 years to 10 years, however the governor must receive a recommendation from the state parole board before he or she can grant a commutation of sentence.
When the imprisonment is the result of a federal conviction, the only person who may commute the sentence is the President.
In addition to a reduced prison term, a commutation of sentence may also result in court-ordered fines being reduced.