A letter of leniency to a judge should be treated as a formal business letter and should be written in a manner that reflects this. They can be sent to a judge before an individual is sentenced and before the legal counsel has pleaded their case before the court. The letters themselves can be written by the individual involved, a family member, a friend or a professional contact such as a doctor or teacher.
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)
Dear Honorable Judge Harris,
My name is Aisha Thomas. My son's name is Isaiah Wallace Thomas. He is a dutiful husband and loving father to his two children- Mia and Isaac. For the last six years my son has missed out on my grandchildren's birthdays and Christmases among many other things. Because my son is languishing in prison for a non-violent, first-time drug offense.
He has been sentence to 12 years for being caught driving a vehicle with drugs. He has tested negative for drugs, he is not a user. He was involved in a gang distributing and dealing illegal substances of which he deeply regrets.
My son Isaiah has never denied his responsibility for the criminal offense committed. He has served half his sentence, displayed good behavior and conduct while under prison confines. He has earned certificates in automotive repair and maintenance under the prison rehabilitation programme. He is looking to better himself by learning skills that could help him raise his family in the hope of an early release. My son has done so much to improve his life inspite of imprisonment. Please give my grandchildren hope that they may live with their father again. They love him so much that these young children only dream to be reunited with Isaiah.
I have faith that the right course of action will be considered by the justice system.
Thank you for considering this request for leniency
It's kind of funny - I have been searching the internet for
an example of a letter myself and find this blog. I am a mother of 8 beautiful, wonderful and
bright children. We are a busy family
with strong and firm family values.
Recently our oldest son, when he turned 18, felt he knew it all and
moved out because "I'm an adult and I don't need you." - Well in the
last 9 months, he has lost his apartment, got into approx $10,000 in debt, got
his girlfriend pregnant, got addicted to cigarettes, marijuana and prescription
drugs and he has now lost his car to law enforcement. He has numerous charges pending on him ranging
from driving with no insurance to position of drugs. Here I am trying to find a way to
"help" him. As a mother I'm
ready to run into the jail and do his time for him, however I read
"Tadolinipa" blog and it's like she/he hit me over the head. He is absolutely correct. We have raised him to be a wonderful asset to
the community and world, however HE was the one that decided to make decisions
that he knew we didn't support. He
constantly lies and steals from us and I keep putting my hand back on the
burner - well no more. I love him with
all that is in me however he needs to learn and if that means he sits in prison
for the next 5 years then so be it. At
least I know he is warm and in a "safe" place and off the
streets. If I don't do this, there is NO
REASON for him to stop his behavior and with a child on the way, he needs to. And what am I telling all the other children
if I help him instead of making him suffer the consequences of his actions?
SOooooooooooo....THANK YOU Tadolinipa for opening my eyes.