Writing a Letter to Judge to Reduce Sentence [with Sample]

A reconsideration letter to a judge is written to persuade the judge to reconsider a decision that was made during a sentencing trial. The writer wants to convince the judge to reevaluate his or her decision by giving valid reasons in detail to reassess the decision.

A letter to a judge should always have a respectful, polite tone and be a professional business letter. It is recommended that the letter be short, no longer than one page.

First Paragraph

The first paragraph of the letter is the introduction. Here, the reason the person is writing the letter should be stated as well as the results the person expects. 

For example, the person may want prison time reduced or a modification of child support payments.

It should clearly state who is asking for reconsideration and give one or two sentences about the case.

For example, it may say that the writer is requesting reconsideration of a five year prison sentence for shoplifting because he or she is a first-time offender, in their last year of college, deeply regrets the action and will never do it again.

Body Of Letter

The body of the letter should provide important details about the defendant’s case. Every sentence should count and there need not be any unnecessary emotional pleas or complaints about the judge’s first decision.

The writer should state the original decision and give two or three significant reasons why the decision should be reconsidered. 

The writer can also state any lessons learned by the arrest and court case and promise that it will never happen again.

If the reconsideration letter is being written by someone other than the person who was sentenced, it should give character references to show why the writer believes the incident will never be repeated.  

Third Paragraph

In the third paragraph, the writer may offer suggestions of the outcome they would like. These should be politely stated and not resemble a threat or demand. 

The last paragraph should have a one-sentence summary of the purpose of the letter and the hoped-for outcome.

A reconsideration letter may also be written by a third party to the sentencing judge. This type of letter usually focuses on the good character of the defendant and why the writer believes the defendant’s sentence should be reduced.

Reconsideration Letter By Third Party

First Paragraph

The first paragraph should state who the writer is and his or her relationship to the defendant. 

It should give details about the relationship so that the judge can determine if the writer is qualified to speak on behalf of the defendant.

For example, the writer may say he or she has known the defendant since he or she was a child, is a friend of the family or was a mentor and teacher of the defendant.

second Paragraph

The second paragraph should state that the writer clearly understands the problems and crime of the defendant.

It may also mention anything the writer is willing to do to help the defendant once he or she is out of prison.

For example, the writer may say he or she will give the defendant a job or allow him or her to live at the writer’s home.

third paragraph

The third paragraph may be a statement of the character of the defendant. For example, the writer may believe that the defendant is a hard worker, good father or family man.

The writer may say that the two families have spent many summer vacations camping together.


The conclusion should state that the defendant deeply regrets his or her actions and has learned from the experience of being arrested and in jail. 

The writer may also say that an extended prison sentence will seriously damage the family life of the wife and children.

Below is a sample reconsideration letter by the defendant to the judge who gave the sentence. It should be a formal business letter and sent by registered mail with a return receipt requested.

The letter should be addressed to the judge’s full name such as Honorable Name of Judge along with the address of the district court. 

The letter may address Your Honor or Dear Judge Last Name of Judge. If the writer is not the defendant, the defendant’s name should be given in the RE: line. 

Sample Reconsideration Letter To Judge

Name of Defendant
Address of Defendant
City, State, Zip Code


Name of Judge
Name of District Court
Address of District Court
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Honorable Judge Last Name of Judge:

This letter is a formal request for you to reconsider my sentencing on DATE for shoplifting. I was given three years prison time, and I fully understand the seriousness of my action.

However, I am requesting that you reconsider because the whole experience of being arrested, staying in jail and being sentenced to three years has had a profound impact on me and I deeply regret my selfish action of shoplifting. 

I have never stolen anything in my life and only did so because of the peer pressure of my friends. 

However, they were smart and did not take anything, while I did. Now, I see that I sacrificed my moral standards to be accepted by so-called friends. I sincerely promise never to do it again.

I just completed my junior year in college at Name of University, and have been at the top of my class in my chosen field of medicine. 

Three years in prison would completely derail my plans to become a doctor, which is another reason my eyes have been opened to the foolishness of my action. 

I would welcome the chance to do community service or anything else that you deem appropriate rather than spend three years in prison.

Thank you for taking the time to reconsider my sentencing on DATE and to consider an alternative sentence. 


Signature of Writer
Printed Name of Writer

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