Stay of Execution

Definition - What does Stay of Execution mean?

A stay of execution is a court-ordered delay in the enforcement of a court’s ruling.

In civil law, a stay of execution delays the operation of a court’s judgment against a losing party in a case. In criminal law, a stay of execution temporarily suspends the enforcement of the death penalty.

Justipedia explains Stay of Execution

In many jurisdictions, it is statutorily mandated that every civil judgment includes a stay of execution for a certain period of time that acts as grace period for the losing party. Rule 62 of the American Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for example, stays every civil judgment for 10 days after issuance.

A stay of execution is also typically granted when a losing party appeals a case, and courts may always issue a stay of execution if the court decides that a stay is in the interest of justice.

In a criminal case, where a defendant is sentenced to death and a court intends to hear an appeal in the case, a court will often declare a stay of execution to postpone the death penalty while the appeal is resolved.

Another common situation in which a stay of execution delays the death penalty occurs when a mother with an unborn child is sentenced to death. The execution is stayed until after the baby is born.

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