If you're facing conviction for a crime, your criminal defense attorney might try to work out a plea bargain with the prosecutor. As a condition of the agreement, you would plead guilty in return for a reduction in the number of charges against you and/or leniency during sentencing. With this plea, you would be given the opportunity to make an allocution statement to the court. Here is a guide to what is typically included in the statement and how it influences the judge's sentencing.
What Allocution Statements Contain
An allocution statement is either handwritten or typed and gives the defendant a chance to take total responsibility for their actions, express their remorse to the victim or their family for committing the crime, and share information about themselves that can paint them in a positive light.
Specifically, the defendant can highlight their accomplishments and positive characteristics, their future goals, and how educational training can help them achieve these objectives. The defendant can also express what they believe is appropriate sentencing for the crime, why the judge should show leniency when deciding on the sentence, and how a lighter sentence would help with their rehabilitation efforts. The case number, parties involved, and date are then stamped on or attached to the allocution statement after it is filed with the court.
How the Statement Impacts Sentencing
An allocution statement lets the judge know the defendant has entered a guilty plea of their own volition. Whether the statement impacts the judge's sentencing decisions largely depends on the nature of the crime.
In the case of minor drug or white-collar offenses, for example, having a record of the defendant's personal goals and eagerness for self-improvement upon reentry into society could help humanize them in the eyes of the judge. This, in turn, could convince the judge a less severe sentence is appropriate.
How to Remain Calm While Reading the Statement
Having the statement pre-written will help you remain calm and focused, as there is no fear of making off-the-cuff comments that could hurt your chances of getting a reduced sentence. Keeping your explanations brief will also reduce the odds of making unintentional remarks that leave a negative impression on the judge.
Addressing the judge respectfully, refraining from hand gestures, and speaking in a clear voice will also make any anxiety you feel less obvious to onlookers. This projection of confidence could also help settle your nerves.
For help building a strong criminal defense strategy to increase the odds of a favorable outcome in court, turn to Pearce Law Firm in Foley, AL. Since 1998, Allyson Pearce has been providing drug and DUI defense services to help clients in the Baldwin County area prevail in court. Find out how the criminal defense lawyer will help you on the firm's website, read feedback on Facebook, and call (251) 971-2676 to arrange a consultation.