Petition to a Judge for Leniency

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A judge may show leniency when sentencing a defendant for the commission of a crime. It is common for the defendant or the defendant's family and friends to request leniency. If a judge shows leniency, the defendant may receive a reduced sentence.


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.

Read More: How to Write a Letter of Leniency to a Judge


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.


About the Author

Jessica McElrath has been a freelance writer since 2000. McElrath is the author of "The Everything John F. Kennedy Book" and "The Everything Martin Luther King Jr. Book." McElrath has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.