A defendant who is a first-time offender or charged with a less serious crime may receive leniency. A judge may consider the crime, the harm caused, the youth of the defendant and the defendant's reputation. If a judge shows leniency, he may order probation or a reduced sentence.
Family members and friends may petition a judge for leniency in a letter. A letter may include information about the defendant, such as the defendant's dedication as a husband and father. Prior to sentencing, a defendant can also write a letter that requests leniency.
At sentencing, a defendant can ask the judge for a more lenient punishment. The defendant must state why leniency is deserved. Possible reasons may include the completion of a substance abuse treatment program, payment of restitution to the victim or the defendant may admit to the crime and give the reason for committing it.