Writing a Letter to Judge Before Sentencing (with Sample)

The first thing to consider is if it is a good idea to write a letter to judge before the sentence is given. You should only do it if your attorney agrees and sees the letter before it is sent.

Anyone can write a letter requesting leniency before sentencing, such as the accused, a parent, sibling, friend or another family member, but it still needs to be coordinated with the convicted person’s attorney.

ask for leniency before sentencing

If your lawyer recommends writing a letter for leniency before the sentencing, it should be a formal business letter in the language used and the format.

Start with a plan. You may want to write down the reasons you believe you deserve leniency. Some things to consider are:

• First offense
• Good character references
• Sincere regret for the offense
• Life circumstances
• Rehabilitation efforts

The letter should be short, no more than one page, but it needs to give specific details as to why you believe you deserve or need a lenient sentence. With specific examples, you can give the judge a clearer picture of your situation to make it easier for him or her to make a decision.

Your lawyer should read the letter and make any changes that would make it a better plea. It would also be good to have a close friend or colleague to read it and make suggestions. There’s no harm in getting other people’s opinions, after all, whatever the sentence you get will have a powerful impact on your life.

Some Things to Consider

• If it is not the first arrest and conviction for the same crime, it needs to be mentioned in the letter. Even though everything was gone over during the trial, you can’t expect the judge to remember all the details of every case. A few lines reminding the judge about your case will make it easier to remember.

You have a better chance at leniency if it is your first offense, but if it is not, you need to mention steps such as rehabilitation or psychological counseling you have taken to change your behavior. You can also mention that you take responsibility for your actions and are determined to change.

• If it is applicable, mention any good deeds you have done such as participated in a charity event such as Meals on Wheels or coached a youth sports team. This will help demonstrate that you are a benefit to the local community.

• Mention any hardship your family will have if you are in prison for a long time. You will lose your job and your family will have no means of support. This could even result in homelessness for them. This information should come in the last paragraph.

Here is a sample of a letter to judge before sentencing asking for leniency. It is written from the point of view of a third party, but it can be easily modified as a sample for a personal letter from the convicted. Just change some of the pronouns and remove the sentence about being the employer.

The letter should be in a proper business-letter format. If you don’t know this, you can ask a teacher or your employer for help. It should be typed on a computer and printed. 

Send one copy to the judge and keep one for your records. You can send it through registered mail with a delivery notification requested, so you are sure it was received.

Sample Letter To Judge Before Sentencing

DATE

The Honorable NAME OF JUDGE
Judge of the Local Court of CITY
ADDRESS
CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE

NAME OF SENDER
ADDRESS
CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE

Dear Judge LAST NAME OF JUDGE:

I’m sending this letter requesting leniency on behalf of NAME OF CONVICTED, who was convicted of Basic Assault on DATE and will be sentenced on DATE. I have been his employer for the past five years at NAME OF BUSINESS.

I appreciate your fairness throughout the trial and understand he was fairly convicted of Basic Assault. I would like to mention that even though he provoked the fight, it is a highly unusual action for him as he is not a violent person. The circumstances of his life at that time were very stressful, which pushed him to lash out.

NAME OF CONVICTED is the sole provider for his younger brother and sister since their parents died in a plane crash three years ago. His sister became seriously ill with pneumonia and required hospitalization.

He has health insurance at work, but it was not enough to cover all of her expenses, and he was terrified for her life. Since his arrest, several local people have joined to give the help she needed, which shows he is loved in the community. She has fully recovered.

He sincerely regrets his actions and vows never to repeat them. I believe him because I know him well and humbly request a lenient sentence as time in jail will put his family in severe difficulty. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I can be reached at PHONE NUMBER.

Sincerely,

SIGNATURE OF SENDER
PRINTED NAME OF SENDER

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