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

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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.

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.

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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

Your Name
Your Address
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 that you rethink my shoplifting sentence on [DATE]. I was sentenced to three years in prison, and I am well aware of the gravity of my actions. 

However, I respectfully request that you reconsider your decision because the entire experience of being arrested, detained, and sentenced to three years in prison has had a tremendous influence on me, and I greatly regret my selfish act of theft.

I’ve never stolen anything before, and the only reason I did so was due of peer pressure from my buddies. They, on the other hand, were astute and did not take anything, although I did. 

Now I understand how I compromised my moral values in order to gain acceptance from so-called pals. I genuinely guarantee that I will never do such a thing again.

I recently finished my junior year of college at Name of University and have excelled in my chosen area of medicine, graduating at the top of my class. 

Another reason my eyes have been awakened to the stupidity of my activity is that three years in prison would entirely destroy my plans to become a doctor.

Instead of spending three years in prison, I would appreciate the opportunity to do community service or anything else you feel acceptable. Thank you for rethinking my sentence on [DATE] and proposing a different punishment.


Your Name

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a Reconsideration Letter to a Judge?

Answer: It’s a letter written to a judge asking them to reconsider a decision they made in a case.

2. What should be included in a Reconsideration Letter?

Answer: The case name, number, and date; the decision being appealed; new or previously unavailable evidence or arguments to support the request; clear and respectful language; and the writer’s contact information.

3. When should a Reconsideration Letter be sent?

Answer: It can be sent after a verdict, but the timeline depends on the jurisdiction and the type of case. Check the local rules and deadlines.

4. What is the purpose of a Reconsideration Letter?

Answer: To present new or compelling evidence, arguments, or circumstances that could impact the original decision and persuade the judge to change it.

5. How to address a Reconsideration Letter to a Judge?

Answer: Address the letter to the judge by name, title, and address. Start with “Honorable (Judge’s name),” or simply “Judge (Name),”

6. Can a lawyer write a Reconsideration Letter on behalf of a client?

Answer: Yes, a lawyer can write a reconsideration letter on behalf of a client. The letter should indicate that the lawyer is acting as counsel.

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