Writing a Letter to the Judge Before Sentencing


In some legal cases, it may be beneficial for a defendant to write a letter to the judge before sentencing. However, this should only be done only after a defendant discusses this action with their attorney. If the attorney believes that it will help the defendant’s case, the letter will be submitted into evidence. Here are some guidelines that will help a defendant write this type of letter.

Beginning The Letter

A defendant should remember that they are involved in a professional legal setting. When writing a letter, it should be correctly formatted. Alignment should be done on the left side by placing the address of the defendant at the top area of the letter. The date should be placed two lines down, followed by the judges name, title and address. After that, a salutation should be used that includes the title of the judge and his or her surname. For example:

(Defendant’s address)


(Judge’s title and last name)
(Judge’s address)

Dear Magistrate Judge Garfield,

First Paragraph

In this area of the letter, the defendant should begin by admitting their crime and confessing why their actions were wrong. Their statements should be truthful, sincere and explain why they regret committing the crime. Also, a statement should be made accepting responsibility for the crime and reasons why they are writing the letter to the judge — a defendant should ask for a lesser fine or a shorter sentence.

Similar Arrests And Changes Made

If any similar arrests have occurred in the past, these incidents should be addressed. Obviously, it will be better for the defendant if none have occurred. It will also help if the defendant includes a statement that explains how they have already changed since they have been taken to court. In addition, they should include an explanation that indicates how they are going to avoid committing this type of crime in the future.

Good Deeds In The Past

It will also help if the defendant list any good deeds that they have done in the past on a consistent basis. This could include volunteering for the Boy Scouts or coaching a youth soccer team for three years. It’s a good idea to explain how much these roles meant to the defendant. Was working with the kids enjoyable?

Explain Why Extreme Sentencing Would Be Harmful

In the last paragraph, the defendant should explain why an extreme prison sentence would be harmful. This should include the effects on the family as well as employment. Will a long prison sentence result in lost income, loss of a job and hardship on a family?

Ending the Letter To The Judge

At the end of the letter, the defendant should thank the judge and sign the letter below their printed name. For example:

Thank you for your time and consideration,