FAQs - Seeking Sentence Reduction

Have questions? We have answers! 

Click through the catagories on the left for answers to some common questions.

If your question is not answered here, please contact us at (212) 693-0085. For individual attorney extensions, please refer to our staff page.

Can I ask for a reduction of my sentence?

Yes, provided that you did not receive the minimum permissible sentence, that you are still serving your sentence at the time of your appeal, and that you did not waive your right to appeal (or your right to raise a sentence issue on appeal). We examine all waivers carefully to make sure that they are valid and binding.
 
The Appellate Division and Appellate Term, as part of their “interest of justice” jurisdiction, may review your sentence for excessiveness and reduce it to any sentence within the legal range for the crime of which you were convicted. You should be aware, however, that the appellate courts rarely reduce sentences. And, in most Appellate Term cases, our clients serve their sentences before their appeals can be decided.

How do I seek a sentence reduction?

The rules of the Appellate Division, Second Department, provide that, if the only issue being raised on appeal concerns the legality, propriety, or excessiveness of sentence, the appeal may be brought in the form of a motion, rather than a brief. This procedure is quicker than filing a brief and waiting for the case to be calendared.
 
If other issues are being raised as part of your appeal, we would add a point to your brief, asking for a sentence reduction.

If I have been doing well since I was sentenced, can that help me get a time cut?

Technically, information about anything that occurred after your sentencing is not part of the record on appeal. However, the Appellate Division, Second Department, has been willing in some cases to consider favorable information about a defendant's post-sentencing conduct. If we are seeking a sentence reduction by motion, we may be able to attach documenta­tion to the motion itself and ask the Court to consider it.
 
If we are filing a brief because we are raising additional issues, we might not be able to get the Court to consider post-sentencing information. 
 
Only official documentation is acceptable: letters of commendation or certificates of achievement from prison officials or programs are fine; letters from friends and relatives saying you are a changed person will not be accepted by the Court. Also, be aware that, if you produce favorable post-sentencing information, the District Attorney would then be free to bring up any unfavorable post-sentencing information, such as disciplinary problems in prison.
 
If you think you have significant post-sentencing information that is helpful to you, please provide it to your attorney. Whether it is worth trying to submit it to the Court will vary from case to case, depending on the impressiveness of the information, the sentence, and the facts of the crime. Your attorney can advise you.