Generally, to allocute
in law means "to speak out formally." In the field of apologetics
Apologetics is the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers...
, allocution is generally done in defense of a belief. In politics, one may allocute before a legislative body
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...
in an effort to influence their position on an issue. In law, it is generally meant to state specifically and in detail what one did and for what reason, often in relation to commission of a crime.
Allocution is sometimes required of a defendant who pleads guilty to a crime in a plea bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...
in exchange for a reduced sentence. In this instance, allocution can serve to provide closure
Closure or need for closure is a popular psychology term used to describe an individual's desire for a definite cognitive closure as opposed to enduring ambiguity...
for victims or their families. In principle, it removes any doubt as to the exact nature of the defendant's guilt in the matter.
The term "allocution" is generally only in use in jurisdictions in the United States, though there are vaguely similar processes in other common law countries. In many other jurisdictions it is for the defense lawyer to mitigate on his client's behalf, and the defendant himself will rarely have the opportunity to speak. The right of victims to speak at sentencing is also sometimes referred to as allocution.
In most United States jurisdictions a defendant is allowed the opportunity to allocute—that is, explain himself—before sentence is passed. Some jurisdictions hold this as an absolute right, and in its absence, a sentence may potentially be overturned, with the result that a new sentencing hearing must be held. In the federal system, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(i)(4) provides that the court must "address the defendant personally in order to permit the defendant to speak or present any information to mitigate the sentence." The Federal Public Defender recommends that defendants speak in terms of how a lenient sentence will be sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the statutory directives set forth in .
In Australia the term "allocutus" will be used. It will be used by the Clerk of Arraigns or another formal associate of the Court. It will generally be phrased as "Prisoner at the Bar, you have been found Guilty by a jury of your peers of the offense of XYZ. Do you have anything to say as to why the sentence of this Court should not now be passed upon you?". The defense counsel will then make a "plea in mitigation" (also called "submissions on penalty") wherein he or she will attempt to mitigate the relative seriousness of the offense and heavily refer to and rely upon the defendant's previous good character and good works (if any). In Australia, the right to make a plea in mitigation is absolute. If a judge or magistrate were to refuse to hear such a plea, or obviously fail to properly consider it, then the sentence would, without doubt, be overturned on appeal.
Allocution refers to the one way dissemination of information through a media channel. It assumes that one party has an unlimited amount of information (usually through some kind of expertise) and can act as the ‘information services provider’ (pg 268) while the other party acts as the ‘information services consumer’ (Bordewijk and Kaam, 1986:268)
The term allocution differs from distribution as distribution implies that the original party loses some kind of control over the information. One party can tell many others a piece of information without losing it themselves, the original information store never becomes empty. (Bordewijk and Kaam, 1986:268)
The original party holds all control over the information. They decide when, how and how much information to give to the information services consumer. The consumer has no control over it in this model.
Examples of this type of communication include radio and traditional television programs such as the news.
Bordewijk, Jan L. and van Kaam, Ben (2002)  “Towards a New Classification of Tele-Information Services,” in Denis McQuail (ed.) McQuail’s Reader in Mass Communication Theory, Sage, London, pp. 113–24
Roman Catholic Magisterium
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...
, an Allocution is a solemn form of address or speech from the throne employed by the Pope on certain occasions. It is delivered only in a secret consistory
-Antiquity:Originally, the Latin word consistorium meant simply 'sitting together', just as the Greek synedrion ....
at which the cardinals alone are present. The term allocutio was used by the ancient Romans for the speech made by a commander to his troops, either before a battle or during it, to animate and encourage them. The term when adopted into ecclesiastical usage retained much of its original significance. An allocution of the Pope often takes the place of a manifesto when a struggle between the Holy See and the secular powers has reached an acute stage.