Allocute generally means to formally declare something. In the context of politics, it may refer to speaking before a legislative body in an effort to influence their position on an issue. In the legal context, itrefers to stating specifically and in detail one's actions and motices, often in relation to commission of a crime.
In most United States jurisdictions a criminal defendant is allowed the opportunity before sentencing to offer an explanation for the crime through allocution. Some jurisdictions provide that this is an absolute right for all defendants, without which, a sentence may be overturned, and a new sentencing hearing must be held. Allocution is sometimes required of a defendant who pleads guilty to a crime in a plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence. In such cases, allocution is intended to provide closure for victims or their families by removing any doubt as to the exact nature of the defendant's guilt in the crime.