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Need help - pre-sentencing letter to judge
05-29-2013, 04:47 PM
Post: #1
Need help - pre-sentencing letter to judge
We've been asked to write a letter to the judge before my nephew is sentenced. He's obviously been in a bit of trouble ( not hugely serious) but has always been good and respectful toward us and we honestly believe he can turn things around.

If someone has an example or template that would be ideal - perhaps even a letter written on behalf of someone else could be tweaked.

Thanks.

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05-29-2013, 04:59 PM (This post was last modified: 05-29-2013 04:59 PM by pappy.)
Post: #2
RE: Need help - pre-sentencing letter to judge
Never been in that position myself but it seems to me your post here outlines the beginnings of what to include in your letter to the judge.

"(he) has always been good and respectful toward us and we honestly believe he can turn things around."

I would emphasize and expand on those points. Point out the good he has done.

Then, while you "believe" he can turn things around the judge has heard that before. Tell him how you think he can turn things around. What would you proscribe for his sentence? What treatment (if needed) or counseling you think would help.

What do you think he needs most? Job training? Alcohol or drug intervention? Family counseling? The list could be endless but I am sure you know pretty well where his needs lie and if you aren't sure then enlist the advice of those that know him best (siblings, parents, close friends, etc.)

Most of all don't sugar coat. Be honest with your assessment and your suggestions.

Speaking, as I said, with no personal experience I think that is how I would get started if I was in your shoes. Good luck to you and your nephew.

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05-30-2013, 09:04 PM (This post was last modified: 05-30-2013 09:05 PM by SeattleGirl.)
Post: #3
RE: Need help - pre-sentencing letter to judge
Pappy basically said what I was going to say. I do have experience in this, as my youngest brother was arrested and sentenced on drug charges (he has been clean and sober ever since, thank The Maker). The family didn't write a letter, but we met with his attorney and told him about our brother, what he meant to us, and most importantly of all, what role we would play for him while he was in jail, and after he got out. I was fortunate in that I had a friend who was the director of an alcohol/drug treatment center, and I secured a grant for my brother to go there once he was released from jail. Oh, and we showed up for his sentencing, so the judge could actually see that we were there supporting my brother. Are you able to go to the sentencing hearing?

As pappy said, don't sugar coat anything, but do talk about what is positive about your nephew, AND what kind of support you and others in your family are willing to provide to him. Obviously, your nephew has to want to turn things around, but people really can't do that all by themselves. If the judge hears that a) you know what his problems are/what kind of trouble he's in, and b) what you and other family members are willing to do to support your nephew, it could go a long way in the eyes of the judge.

Best of luck to your nephew and your family.

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05-31-2013, 01:02 AM
Post: #4
RE: Need help - pre-sentencing letter to judge
If his story includes past accomplishes and goals that went down the drain with some sort of life change or drug problem, it would be good to includes those as well.
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05-31-2013, 10:04 AM
Post: #5
RE: Need help - pre-sentencing letter to judge
Great responses! I found this information online.

Writing on Behalf of the Defendant

1) Address the judge as "Honorable" in your greeting. In the first paragraph, explain how long you've known the defendant and in what capacity. Establish why you are qualified to evaluate the defendant; state your job or title if it's relevant. Mention the upcoming sentencing date.

2) State what you are hoping for and why in the second paragraph. Use facts, not skewed or immaterial background information. For example, if you're requesting that the defendant be given probation instead of jail time, explain why the defendant is a probationary candidate. Describe how the defendant has changed since the crime took place. Illustrate your point by describing actions the defendant is taking (e.g., attending substance abuse treatment while on bond).

3) Balance your letter in the third paragraph by admitting that the defendant has areas in life that need work. A letter that minimizes the defendant's criminal behavior is too one-sided to be effective; it's best to describe positive characteristics while acknowledging the defendant's poor decision. Explain how you and others plan to support the defendant after sentencing.

4) Close your letter by reaffirming your sentencing request. Provide your daytime telephone number so that the judge or pre-sentence investigator can contact you with questions. Before mailing the letter, ask the defense attorney to review the letter for unintentional legal ramifications.

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06-07-2013, 01:01 PM
Post: #6
RE: Need help - pre-sentencing letter to judge
Thanks all! Your information was helpful indeed. We have penned a letter and are hoping for the best.

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