You may work really hard to develop your character-reference campaign. And your package of character-reference letters may do a fabulous job. People that have known, liked, and trusted you for several years may help your judge understand more about you. The letters may advance prospects for leniency.
But have you done everything within your power to prepare for the best outcome?
At the end of the day, you must remember that you’re about to make the biggest sale of your life. Prosecutors aren’t always out for justice. Sometimes, they want vengeance. They get gold stars in their careers with resumes that show how succeeded in persuading judges to sanction people severely.
Don’t take my word for it. If you run a Google search on the prosecutor that prevailed over my case (Google Portia Moore and Michael Santos) you’ll see her new law firm. Under the experience tab, accomplishments still cites my conviction—even though the conviction took place in 1987. Portia left her employment as an Assistant U.S. Attorney decades ago. Since then she has been a partner at the commercial law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine in Seattle. But when I click the experience tab, I see United States of America v. Santos.
Tough sentences are sources of validation and career advancement for prosecutors.
Make sure that you’re doing everything to counterbalance efforts prosecutors will make to advance their careers at your expense. They may want a severe sanction. They may want to take your liberty.
You must decide if your lawyer is doing everything within his power to advance your prospects for mercy. You must introspect and think if there is more that you can do.
We recommend a multi-prong approach when it comes to preparing for sentencing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re facing a sentence for a traffic offense, or an offense that could lead to many years in prison. If you’re facing sentencing, you should create a comprehensive mitigation package. Your character reference letters are one part of that strategy. We created courses for other parts of the strategy that you may consider. They include:
- Sentencing Prep Course
- Sentence-Mitigation Workshop
- Sentence-Mitigation Video Project
Since some lawyers resist the efforts clients make to prepare for sentencing, we have drafted a template. Consider modifying the following template to suit your needs when you communicate with your lawyer. It includes links that you may also want to send to the lawyer if he objects to submitting the narrative.
Dear (lawyer’s name),
I’m attaching a personal narrative that I wrote. Please read the narrative, then share your thoughts with me.
I spent many hours working on this document. I decided to work on the document after coming across two videos with federal judges. Judge Stephen Bough and Judge Mark Bennett have collectively sentenced more than 5,000 defendants. In the videos I watched, each judge stated that he was always disappointed that many attorneys did not do enough to prepare defendants prior to sentencing. Judges said that they wanted to learn more from defendants.
- Judge Mark Bennett: I would be super impressed if, when reading a pre-sentence report, I saw that a defendant had thought about sentencing then. It would be astoundingly impressive to me, showing that this was a defendant truly understood the gravity of his offense and that he wanted to make things right.
- Judge Bough: I’d like more defendants to show a true introspection, showing how they got here. He doesn’t want defendants to simply say “I’m sorry” he wants people to show that they truly understand what they’ve done. A defendant should write his thoughts, In his own words.
Based on what I’ve learned from watching those two videos, I worked extensively to write this narrative. I would like to make sure that the Probation Officer gets the narrative, with hopes that the Probation Officer will incorporate my comments into the Presentence Investigation report.
Other research has shown me that if the PSR includes portions of my narrative, the record may influence my regular assessments in prison.
For that reason, I request that you provide my sentencing narrative to the probation officer when you return changes. If you object, please let me know why you disagree with the two federal judges that spoke so forcefully about the power of defendants that write sentencing narratives.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Our team at Resilient Courses highly recommends that you submit your narrative to the probation officer during the presentence interview—or at the soonest possible time.
We wish you the best possible outcome.