After a specific period, or if the appeal is found invalid for any reason, or was issued at the final instance court, a sentence becomes valid and is to be executed.

I found the translation of the term to describe this situation from my language to point to "prejudice", but as I read about it, it appears to apply only to a limited range of situation — dismissal of a proceeding with or without prejudice, or overturning it on appeal. I don't see "prejudice" for example getting applied when the sentence becomes final through normal procedure without appeal (defendant pleads guilty and accepts the sentence).

So, is there a term that describes a sentence that is final — can't be appealed, overturned or otherwise changed?

  • 1
    You're probably better to ask this question on a legal website: you're looking for technical legal terminology, not general English. I find the word "unappealable" in a legal dictionary, that may be what you're looking for.
    – Jay
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 16:43
  • @Jay: I delved into this some more, and reached the same conclusion you did. I hope you don't mind that I folded this shared result into my answer below.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


Maybe the word you're looking for is:

incommutable (adj.) not capable of being changed or exchanged.

(def. from NOAD)

EDIT: After reviewing the conversation below, I think I now see more clearly what the O.P. is seeking.

Take, for example, person X who loses a court decision. X can accept his loss, or file an appeal. If the appellate court doesn't rule in X's favor, he can appeal again. But sooner or later, the appeal process ends, maybe because an appellate court refuses to grant a hearing, or maybe because X loses before the Supreme Court. Either way, O.P. is seeking a word that describes such a ruling, the one that essentially says to X, "You have no more appeal options."

It appears to be an elusive term. I Googled "can appeal court decision" (in quotes), and got back more than a quarter million hits, but when I changed the query to "can't appeal court decision", I got only five.

I suppose, too, that this generic word need not only apply to court decisions, but might apply to other contexts as well. For example, it could be used in regards to an academic committee that decides to expel a student, or to a controversial decision by a city council. In any case, sooner or later, the person opposed to the decision runs out of appeal options.

If my reformed interpretation is correct, I believe the right word here would be unappealable, which can even be converted to noun form: unappealableness. Collins defines these as:

unappealableness (noun)
(law) the condition of not being able to be appealed against

unappealable (adjective)
(law) (of a judgment, etc) not capable of being appealed against

Edit to the edit: I actually spent some time researching this, and only noticed Jay's comment above after I wrote all this out! Nice job, Jay; I hope you don't mind my answer down here.

  • It seems like a good fit, because the word commute is often used in this context.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 8:58
  • But "commute" has a specific meaning in law: In the US, it means that the executive authority -- the governor of the state or the president -- reduces the sentence imposed on a convicted criminal. It is not the result of the normal appeals process, and I don't think a sentence could ever be "incommutable" in US law, I think the governor always has the authority to commute a sentence regardless of what appeals have or have not been made. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.)
    – Jay
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 16:43
  • @Jay: I never said that incommutable sentences were possible in the U.S. (perhaps that's why this is such a rare word), I merely offered that incommutable is a word that might fit as "a term that describes a sentence that is final — can't be appealed, overturned or otherwise changed."
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 0:01
  • It's not entirely what I meant. That's an extraordinary measure, as is total amnesty, revolution followed by collapse of law system, or a change in law that retroactively allows retrials. In this context, any sentence can be overturned somehow. What I mean, the standard law procedure ends at this point, followed by execution or acquittal, as do 99.99% of all cases.
    – SF.
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 5:36

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