English Law. A pecuniary punishment arbitrarily imposed by some lord or count, in distinction from a fine which is expressed according to the statute. Amerciament royal, when the amerciament is made by the sheriff, or any other officer of the king.
Practice. A pecuniary penalty imposed upon a person who is in misericordia; as, for example, when the defendant se retaxit, or recessit in contemptum curioe. By the common law, none can be amerced in his absence, except for his default.
Formerly, if the sheriff failed in obeying the writs, rules, or orders of the court, he might be amerced; that is, a penalty might be imposed upon bim; but this practice has been superseded by attachment. In New Jersey and Ohio, the sheriff may, by statutory provision, be amerced for making a return contrary to the provision of the statute.