Discretion Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Discretion, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Discretion?

n. A judge, public official, or private party’s power to form a decision within general legal guidelines that is based upon his/her opinion. For example: a) a judge has the discretion regarding the amount of a fine or whether to grant a trial’s continuance; b) An estate’s trustee or executor may have discretion to divide assets into approximate equal shares to beneficiaries; c) District Attorneys have the discretion to charge a crime as a felony or a misdemeanor; d) Governors have the discretion to grant a pardon; e) a planning commission has discretion to grant or not to grant a zoning ordinance variance.