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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27069
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Can I have a sample plea letter for leniency?

Customer Question

Can I have a sample plea letter for leniency for my son to write himself? My son is involved with a charge of making false report about being robbed by someone as he lost his company mobile phone which carries important company information. He was so anxious that it would affect his occupation at the moment of reporting to police. However, he soon realized that he was wrong and spoke the truth to the police officer right away. No one was caught in this incident. And my son does not have any criminal or similar record of offense in the past. 

The reason why he was so anxious about the lost is because he's the only source of income of our family now, as I and my husband were injured in a traffic accident lately and won't be recovered to work soon.

Appreciated for your help!!

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.

Hello Jacustomer,

Unless your son has already pled guilty and the judge has asked for a letter from him prior to sentencing, he should not give one to the court.

First of all, they do not generally work. By the sentencing date, the judge already knows what he is going to sentence someone to, and it's a rare letter that would change his mind.

Secondly, judges do not take ex-parte communications. That is, anything coming from your son that isn't sharted with the prosecutor as well won't even get read.

Finally, anything he says in his letter can be used against him.

As a criminal defendant in this country, he starts off his case presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is true whether or not he confessed to the police. All criminal defendants walk into court as innocent people.

He is entitled therefore to plead NOT GUILTY which keeps all of his rights open so that he can get advised by a lawyer who can negotiate something for him which will keep him out of jail and minimize in so far as possible under the circumstances, the damage to your son's record that this incident has caused. Chances are he is looking at nothing worse than probation on these charges anyhow, but he can do better with a lawyer than with a letter admitting to wrongdoing.

So, if this case is only at the beginning and your son is only first appearing in court, he should retain a lawyer and have him with him to protect all of his rights and to negotiate something favorable to him. If he cannot afford a lawyer, he can just plead not guilty and ask the judge to appoint him a public defender.

If on the other hand, he's been appearing in court and is trying to work out something and the judge has asked him to write a letter, that's a very different thing. Here's a letter to a judge asking for leniency that's found on the web. Your son would have to adapt it to the facts and circumstances of his situation and to ask for the specific relief from the judge that he wants.

The sample is from someone someone other than the defendant asking for leniency, because, like I have indicated, this is not something generally done by a defendant unless the judge has asked for it. But he should be able to get a good idea of how to proceed from this. Here's another how-to guideline explaining format and with suggestions for content. (see link)

Good luck.