Personal Letter To Sentencing Judge (7 Faults and 5 Fixes)

Writing your personal letter to the judge is a very big deal. It is certainly one of the most important things you will do as a federal defendant. I commend all defendants willing to invest the time to create this document.

While I applaud defendants willing to invest the time, many miss the mark. In the end, it does more harm than good. For that reason, I’m writing this blog and later this week will post a video on this subject of writing a personal letter to the judge.

For now, the faults and fixes follow:

Faults for your personal letter:

1: Faults: do not focus on victim
2: Faults: focuses on all the great things: cooperation, charity work, paying back money.
3: Faults: does not share a vision moving forward
4: Faults: Wrote that it wasn’t your defendant’s fault
5: Faults: Stated that the government or jury got it wrong
6: Faults: That you should not be going to prison
7: Faults: Following a template that many others wrote

Fixes for your personal letter:

1. Show an understanding and an appreciation for the victim’s pain, suffering, or loss.
2. Show influences that led the defendant to become involved in the instant offense.
3. Show what the defendant has learned from the experience.
4. Show what steps the defendant has taken to reconcile with society, the victims, and his community to make things right.
5. Articulate a coherent plan to show why the defendant will never break the law again.

If you have questions or would like our team to help you with your personal letter, schedule a call here.

If you want to learn more about sentencing mitigation, including more details on your personal letter, read our chapter on sentencing mitigation.

Thank you,

Justin Paperny

P.S. This five minute video with Dr. Phil also breaks down what must be included in your personal letter.