Definition for A-MERC'E-MENT

A-MERC'E-MENT, n. [amers'ment.]

A pecuniary penalty inflicted on an offender at the discretion of the court. It differs from a fine, in that the latter is, or was originally, a fined and certain sum prescribed by statute for an offense; but an amercement is arbitrary. Hence the practice of affeering. [See Affeer.] But in America, the word fine is now used for a pecuniary penalty which is uncertain; and it is common in statutes, to enact that an offender shall be fined, at the discretion of the court. In England also, fines are now usually discretionary. Thus the word fine has, in a measure, superseded the use of amercement. This word, in old books, is written amerciament. Amercement royal is a penalty imposed on an officer for a misdemeanor in his office.

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