Home Law Facts Law Terms Stay of execution meaning and application

Stay of execution meaning and application

stay of execution meaning

Stay orders come in two forms, stay of proceedings and execution. What does a stay of execution mean?

Stay of Execution meaning

it refers to a court order to briefly halt the execution of a judgment or any specific order by the court. It is not to be confused with injunction, though both are similar in meaning.

A stay of execution can come into force by the following ways:

  • Operation of law – This form of stay of a court judgment is automatic by the operation of a law, usually meeting a condition. example when a woman sentenced to death is pregnant, her execution will be stayed until she delivers. In the US, all death sentences are automatically stayed during the time permitted for appeals.
  • Agreement – Also known as conventional stay, this stay can arise when both parties in a civil or criminal case agrees to stay an execution for a mutually agreed period.
  • Appeals – When a party appeals a decision by a court, all judgments by the court in the specific case is stayed until the appeal has been heard and the appellate court has issued it’s own order confirming or otherwise the decision of the original court.

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Death penalty stay of execution

A stay of a death penalty is an order differing the execution of a person sentenced to death until a further determination has been made by a court. Stays of execution of death penalty may be issued in cases where fresh evidence has been uncovered which could sway the judgment in favor of the person convicted, such that the person may be exonerated or have his sentence commuted.

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Stay of Proceedings vs Execution

While a stay of execution prevents the performance of a judgment by a court temporarily, a stay of proceedings refers to the halting of court proceedings in a case until an event specified by the issuing court has occurred.


An injunction refers to a legal remedy issued by the court barring a party from a specific performance, be if temporarily, in the interim or permanently. Breaching an injunction by a court is criminal and comes with  detrimental consequences including prison sentences and fines.

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