Allocution Details

All criminals and lawbreakers must go before a judge in the court of law after authorities detain them or issue a promise to appear. The judge is the one who's ultimately in control. They will decide what type of sentence the defendant faces if they or a jury find the defendant guilty. Before a verdict is given on a case, the defendant usually has a chance to issue a statement to the court. This can play a big part in how severe of a sentence they get. This statement is called the allocution.

The allocution gives the defendant a chance to express their remorse or explain themselves before the court, possibly influencing the judge's final verdict. There have been a few cases of judges reducing the defendant's sentence by a significant margin after they issued their statements.

An allocution might also lead to an increase in the punishment if the statement is somehow spiteful or shows no remorse in any way. Defendants are advised to prepare their statements carefully for the allocution gives them a chance to slightly redeem themselves from a severe sentence.

Allocution Example

Mark is on trial for theft and assault as he stole $500 worth of groceries from a local bodega and injured a woman who was trying to stop him. As there is plenty of evidence to prove this, there's little hope that the jury will decide a verdict in his favor.

Before they deliberate, Mark is allowed to speak to them one last time. He states that he does feel sorry for hurting the woman—he never intended it to happen that way. But he also explains that he didn't steal just to steal. He takes care of his mother and four of his younger siblings and barely makes enough money to pay the rent. His mother is on disability and cannot work. He further explains that there was no food in the house that evening and they were facing eviction. He was desperate, and that's why he stole.

The jury leaves and comes back with a verdict. They find Mark guilty on both counts, but the judge reduces Mark's sentence because the theft was not intended to be a malicious act. The judge even offers to help Mark's family while he serves his shortened prison sentence.

Allocution vs. Testimony

In court, a testimony is a statement made by a witness. It will usually include what they saw, know, or heard. Either a witness from the defense or prosecution side can give testimony. An allocution is reserved for the defendant and is a last-minute statement regarding the trial.

Significance of Allocution

As mentioned before, an allocution can effect the sentence of a defendant. The defendant can address any ill remarks made of him during the trial and explain why they did it—there may be a justifiable reason. However, an attorney should take great care to guide the defendant's allocution.