Ellipsis in Legal Spanish: la absolutoria; la condenatoria

Among the ellipses that constantly appear in legal Spanish documents, in procedural law contexts the expressions la absolutoria and la condenatoria obviously refer to sentencias (“judgments”): la sentencia absolutoria; la sentencia condenatoria.

But (¡ojo!) the correct English rendering will depend on whether the text to be translated concerns civil or criminal procedure. In civil proceedings la absolutoria refers to a “judgment for the defendant,” while la condenatoria denotes a “judgment for the plaintiff (or) claimant.” In contrast, in the context of criminal proceedings la absolutoria denotes a “judgment of not guilty” or an “acquittal,” while la condenatoria is a “judgment of guilty” or a “conviction.” Thus,

  • sentencia absolutoria =
    • judgment for the defendant (in civil proceedings)
    • acquittal (of the defendant in criminal proceedings)
  • sentencia condenatoria =
    • judgment for the plaintiff/claimant (in civil proceedings)
    • conviction (of the defendant in criminal proceedings)

4 thoughts on “Ellipsis in Legal Spanish: la absolutoria; la condenatoria

    • Hi, Jason. There are actually dozens of ellipses in legal Spanish. Lawyers, judges and other legal professionals seem to have a telegraphic language that is not always obvious to nonlawyer translators. I’ll include other examples of legal ellipses in future blog entries.


    • Hi, Olga. At the bottom of the right-hand side of my blog’s webpage there is a place (“Follow blog by email”) where you can enter your email address to receive a notice each time a new entry is posted. I’m glad you find them of interest. Saludos desde Madrid.


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