To send a person to prison by virtue of a warrant or other lawful writ, for the commission of a crime, offence or misdemeanor, or for a contempt, or non-payment of a debt.
The warrant or order by which a court or magistrate directs a ministerial officer to take a person to prison. The commitment is either for further hearing or it is final.
The formal requisites of the commitment are:
- 1st. that it be in writing, under hand, and seal, and show the authority of the magistrate, and the time and place of making it. In this case it is said a seal is not indispensable.
- 2d. It must be made in the name of the United States, or of the commonwealth, or people, as required by the Constitution of the United States or of the several states.
- 3d. It should be directed to the keeper of the prison and not generally to carry the party to prison.
- 4th. The prisoner should be described by his name and surname or the name he gives as his.
- 5th. The commitment ought to state that the party has been charged on oath.
- 6th. The particular crime charged against the prisoner should be mentioned with convenient certainty.
- 7th. The commitment should point out the place of imprisonment and not merely direct that the party be taken to prison.
- 8th. In a final commitment, the command to the keeper of the prison should be to keep the prisoner 'until he shall be discharged by due course of law,' when the offence is not bailable; when it is bailable the jailer should be directed to keep the prisoner in his 'said custody for want of sureties, or until he shall be discharged by due course of law.' When the commitment is not final, it is usual to commit the prisoner 'for further hearing.' The commitment is also called a mittimus.
The act of sending a person to prison charged with the commission of a crime by virtue of such a warrant is also called a commitment.