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How to write an apology letter

Most people sentenced for a criminal offence want to explain to the court how sorry they are. A well-crafted apology letter can make an enormous difference to the sentence you receive.

This page is designed to assist you in preparing a quality letter of apology that will impress a court.

Explain why you are sorry

Anyone can say they are sorry. An effective letter of apology should explain why you are sorry. You may wish to reflect upon the consequence of your offending, both for yourself and for others. It may be that you can recognize the harm caused by what you did.

Whatever you do, do not complain about the consequences for you. The court will not be impressed if you are only sorry because you are about to be punished.

Explain why you committed the offence

The court will be looking to see if you understand why you committed the offence. It may be that you have a problem with alcohol, or that you have a temper. It may be that you got yourself into a financial mess and made a poor decision. The court knows that if you understand why you committed the offence, then you are halfway to ensuring it does not happen again.

Explain why it won’t happen again

This should flow from demonstrating that you understand why you committed the offence. Speak about the insight you have into your offending and the steps you have taken to ensure it does not happen again. Explain why your attitude and perspective are different now, and why that means the court can have confidence that, if put in the same position, you would make different choices.

If you have taken any concrete steps, tell the court about this. It may be that you have completed an anger management course, self-excluded yourself from a gambling venue, or given up drinking.

Tell the court how you feel

People often reporting feeling a range of emotions about coming before the court. This may be a feeling of shame, or remorse, or embarrassment for you or your family. You may wish to express sympathy for others you have affected, including, if any, victims of the conduct. Explaining how you feel can help the court see that you are taking the matter seriously.

Easy to read

A letter of apology should be:

  • Usually no more than a page
  • Typewritten
  • Dated
  • Signed
  • Addressed to the court

J Sutton Associates have the experience and insight to provide you with the right advice when it comes to preparing your letter of apology. For some free advice and guidance, please contact us.

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