How to Write a Letter of Leniency to a Judge

By Marguerite Lance - Updated June 16, 2017
Judge reading a letter in a courtroom

Letters of leniency are written to a judge when an individual is facing sentencing. Letters of leniency can be written by the individual facing sentencing, family members, friends, professional contacts or any others who have reason to believe they have information a judge needs to take into account before a sentencing. Letters of leniency are technically a professional business letter, and should be written as such in terms of form and language.

Brainstorm Your Reasons for Leniency

Write a list of the reasons why you feel the judge should be lenient. Include concrete reasons for why the judge should be lenient in sentencing the person you are writing the letter for. Good qualities, examples of good character, examples of movement toward rehabilitation or individual life circumstances are examples of elements to consider.

Addressing the Letter

Type your street address at the top of the page. An example of this might be "1234 Main Street." Type your city, state and zip code on the second line. An example of this might be "Chicago, Illinois 60601." Type the date on the third line. An example of this might be "May 26, 2017."

Skip a few lines and then write the address for the judge you are addressing. Type the judge's title and name, such as, "The Honorable Judge John Jones." Then, type the name of the court, the address, city, state and zip code on the following three lines on the letter.

Writing the Introduction

Type the salutation for the letter, such as "Dear Judge Jones," followed by a colon after the judge's last name.

Type one or two sentences, telling the judge why you are writing, explaining that you are asking for leniency. While you want to keep this section as concise as possible, you want to be as specific as you can to make sure that the judge knows which case you are referring to.

Introduce Yourself

Type a paragraph introducing yourself to the judge, including only information about yourself that is pertinent in you writing a letter of leniency for the individual you are writing for. For example, you may tell the judge you are the director of a rehabilitation group the individual being sentenced attended and have held this position for seven years.

List Reasons for Leniency

Write a paragraph about why the judge should be lenient when sentencing the individual being sentenced. Use the notes you brainstormed earlier. Remember to go into as much detail as possible without being overly wordy. The more specific examples you can use, the better, as they really help paint a picture for the judge.

Close the Letter

Type a sentence or two long, informing the judge that you are available to talk if any further information is needed. Remember to provide your contact information, such as your email or phone number. Then close the letter with a "Sincerely" or "Thank you" and your full name. Remember to sign the letter with your name using blue or black ink.

Tip

Use one-inch margins on all sides for the letter. Let the letter rest over night. Look at it again the next day and proofread it for clarity and proper spelling and grammar. Ask a trusted friend to proofread the letter for you. Retype the letter to incorporate any changes. Don't forget to sign the letter.

About the Author

Marguerite Lance has been a professional writer for seven years and has written for museums, hospitals, non-profit agencies, governmental agencies and telecommunication companies. Her specialties include nutrition, dietetics and women's and children's health issues. Lance received a Bachelor of Arts in biological anthropology from Idaho State University.

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