A letter to a judge after sentencing 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Andre Bradley