How to File an Appeal for Sentence Reduction

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Filing an appeal for a sentence reduction is similar to filing any other type of appeal notice. By learning the proper procedures and filing your appeal on time, you may be able to get your or your client's sentence reduced.

Find a friend, family member or attorney to assist you in an appeal if you are still in jail or prison. While institutions offer law libraries, you will often need outside help to get forms filed and fees paid.

Get an appeal form. Appeal forms are often available from the clerk of the court. Make sure you get the proper form, however, because there are different appeal forms for a sentence reduction.

Read More: How to Write an Appeal Letter to a Circuit Court

Determine who will receive your appeal form by checking with your local court clerk. Some states have clemency boards that are solely responsible for sentence reductions, while others rely on local judges.

Fill out your appeal form accordingly. Be sure to fill in all fields and attach any necessary paperwork to notify the court of your request for a sentence reduction.

Ask for a fee waiver form if you or your client cannot pay the filing fees. Make sure to fill out this form and hand it in when you file the rest of the appeal paperwork.

Hand deliver the appeal to the court or governing board to make sure it arrives on time. Don't forget to pay any filing fees.


  • Don't file for a sentence reduction without an attorney's help if you are a defendant. No matter how many times you've been in front of a judge, you are not an attorney. It will help your case to have someone wade through the legal process.
  • Don't despair if you are a defendant. The appeals process can take a long time. If you are an attorney, make sure your client understands the best and worst case scenarios of the appeals process.


  • If you can, get your form filed at the beginning of the week. Friday is a favorite time of attorneys to file briefs and motions, which means the court clerk's office can get pretty busy. Make sure your paperwork isn't lost in the shuffle by getting it in on Monday.
  • Keep your client in the know. Jail and prison can be a lonely place, so he should be made aware of each step in the process so he feels like someone is trying to get him out sooner.