Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
The power of a judge, public official, or private party to make decisions based on his or her opinion within general legal guidelines. Discretion is often granted under a contract, trust, or will. Examples: 1) A judge may have discretion as to the amount of a fine or whether to grant a continuance of a trial. 2) A trustee or executor of an estate may have discretion to divide assets among the beneficiaries. 3) A district attorney may have discretion to charge a crime as a misdemeanor or felony. 4) A governor may have discretion to grant a pardon. 5) A planning commission may use its discretion when deciding whether or not to grant a variance to a zoning ordinance.