You may be caught in an emotional tornado of fear, shame and anger if your son is facing sentencing in a court of law. Writing a properly presented plea for leniency may help your son. Present facts about his past that help a judge understand how he ended up in his current position, while still holding your son accountable and showing support for his rehabilitation.
Verbiage and Length
Use the judge's correct title, with the words "Your Honorable" in the letter's heading, and use either "Dear Judge (last name) or "Your Honor" as the opening greeting. Keep the letter under three pages long. In the first paragraph, introduce yourself and give your son's name.
Include Mitigating Facts
You can use details from your son's life experience to help the court understand him better, such as learning disabilities or traumatic experiences. You also know his better side and the efforts he may have been making to turn his life around. Present these facts briefly, clearly and specifically.
If you are in a position to offer your son housing, help him find employment or arrange for rehabilitation or therapy, mention these possibilities. Briefly and specifically outline the support system you can arrange for him.
Accountability and Proof Reading
You may feel your son has been treated unfairly by the system, but now is not the time to raise such issues. Make it clear that both you and he regret whatever mistake he made, and that you understand that there are consequences. Your son's attorney should review the letter before it is sent.
Anne Pyburn Craig has written for a range of regional and local publications ranging from in-depth local investigative journalism to parenting, business, real estate and green building publications. She frequently writes tourism and lifestyle articles for chamber of commerce publications and is a respected book reviewer.