Allocution 

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Allocution

How to speak to a judge at sentencing

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A good plan on preparing for sentencing in federal court involves many steps. First, a person should think about the stakeholders. Who are they and what do they want? A person cannot change the past, but a good mitigation strategy will show stakeholders that a person is a good candidate for rehabilitation.

As a young man, I had to learn a great deal about how to build a mitigation strategy. Authorities charged me with crimes that exposed me to a life sentence. I could not change the fact that I had broken the law. That was my fault. It would be up to me to think about how I wanted to prepare for a better outcome. 

Each person who faces a sentencing hearing should think about the challenges ahead. Help stakeholders understand the plan you’ve made to reconcile with society and make amends. The harder you work on the plan, the more effective you’ll be at engineering a strategy that advances you as a candidate for leniency.

In our courses, we recommend that you draft a comprehensive narrative, in the first-person voice. You should supplement that narrative with well-planned allocution,

An allocution is the verbal statement that you will make to the judge before the judge imposes a sentence. It can influence the outcome of the proceeding in a positive way, or in a negative way. So prepare well. 

Purpose of Allocution in a Federal Sentencing Hearing

Allocution is your chance to speak directly to the judge, to express remorse, to explain the circumstances that led to your offense, and to demonstrate your commitment to a positive change. It’s a personal moment that humanizes you beyond the legal facts presented in your case.

Do not squander this opportunity to influence the judge in a positive way. The judge does not want you to re-litigate the case. It’s crucial that you show sincerity. I encourage you to make eye contact, and do not be afraid to show emotion. 

The worst thing a person can do during an allocution would be to blame others. At the federal sentencing stage, the only goal is to position yourself for the most lenient sentence possible. Focus on remorse, personal responsibility, and articulating the steps you’ve taken to atone.

Preparing Your Allocution Statement:

Write and Practice: Draft your statement and practice it. While it should come from the heart, having a well-thought-out statement ensures you cover all key points succinctly and coherently.

Consult with Your Attorney: Review your statement with your attorney. They can provide feedback and ensure your message aligns with your legal strategy.

Keep It Concise: Allocution statements should be concise and to the point. Respect the court’s time by delivering a statement that is direct yet complete. A good time frame should be three to five minutes.

Speak Clearly and Respectfully: When delivering your statement, do so clearly and with respect. The tone and delivery of your message are as important as its content.

Be Authentic: Authenticity is key. The judge will likely have heard many allocution statements, so your sincerity and honesty can set you apart.

Conclusion

Preparing and delivering an allocution statement is a unique opportunity in the federal sentencing process. It allows you to have a direct dialogue with the judge and can significantly impact the outcome of your sentencing. By focusing on sincerity, personal responsibility, and a clear commitment to change, your allocution can serve as a powerful tool in your sentencing strategy. Approach this moment with the seriousness and preparation it deserves, as it could shape the course of your future.

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