Allocution – a trial judge’s formal address to a convicted defendant, to ask if they wish to make a statement or present information that could lessen or cancel the sentence

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n. (1858) Criminal procedure.

1. A trial judge’s formal address to a convicted defendant, asking whether the defendant wishes to make a statement or to present information in mitigation of the sentence to be imposed.  *  This address is required under Fed. R. Crim. P. 32(c)(3)(C). 

2. An unworn statement from a convicted defendant to the sentencing judge or jury in which the defendant can ask for mercy, explain his or her conduct, apologize for the crime, or say anything else in an effort to lessen the impending sentence.  *  This statement is not subject to cross-examination. 

3. Criminal procedure. A defendant’s admission of guilt made directly to a judge, especially in response to a series of questions from the judge on whether the defendant understands the charges, the right to a trial, the consequences of a guilty plea, and the voluntary nature of the plea. [1]

1. The traditional formal inquiry under the common law, which exists by force of statute in American jurisdictions with some variations, to be directed by the court to one convicted of a felony before sentence: — whether the one convicted has anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced against him 21 Am J2d Crim L § 530.

The reason given for the importance attached to this form in England is, that the appellate court may see that the prisoner had an opportunity of moving in arrest, or of pleading a pardon. State v Bull, 27 Mo 324, 326. [2]

1. A judge’s question to a convicted criminal before sentence is passed, inquiring whether he has anything to say or whether there is any reason he should not be sentenced. [3]

allocutory adj. (1944) Of, relating to, or involving an allocution. <allocutory pleas for mercy>.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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