Prior to writing the letter, compile a list of reasons why the judge should be lenient on the individual. For example, state if they have had a steady job for the past three years or if they have a young family to support. It may be a good idea to include examples of the individual’s good character or it may also be advisable to indicate how they are going to turn their lives around. If they have acted out of character due to extenuating circumstances in their personal life, for example after splitting up with a long-term partner, this should also be referred to in the letter.
The following could be used as a template for sending a letter to a judge:
Dear Honorable Judge ______,
(Use the first paragraph to introduce yourself as either a family member or the actual individual. Mention key positive behavioral traits and refer to his/her good character.)
(Mention what the crime is against him and advise the individual is taking steps to remedy his/her actions i.e. Attending a rehabilitation programme).
(Use this section to really plead your case ie: If the defendant has children or has just got married, make sure the judge knows what they will be missing if they are sent to jail.)
(Thank the judge for considering the request for leniency and admit you know the right course of action will be considered by the judicial system)