An allocution, or allocutus, is a formal statement made to the court by the defendant who has been found
guilty Guilty or The Guilty may refer to: * Guilt (emotion), an experience that occurs when a person believes they have violated a moral standard Law *Culpability, the degree to which an agent can be held responsible for action or inaction *Guilt (law), ...
prior to being sentenced. It is part of the criminal procedure in some jurisdictions using
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...


An allocution allows the defendant to explain why the sentence should be lenient. In
plea bargain A plea bargain (also plea agreement or plea deal) is an agreement in criminal law proceedings, whereby the prosecutor A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the common law In law, common law (also known ...
s, an allocution may be required of the defendant. The defendant explicitly admits specifically and in detail the actions and their reasons in exchange for a reduced sentence. In principle, that removes any doubt as to the exact nature of the defendant's guilt in the matter. The term "allocution" is used generally only in jurisdictions in the United States, but there are vaguely similar processes in other
common law countries The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influ ...
. In many other jurisdictions, it is for the defense lawyer to mitigate on his client's behalf, and the defendant rarely has the opportunity to speak. The right of victims to speak at sentencing is also sometimes referred to as allocution.


Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

, the term ''allocutus'' is used by the Clerk of Arraigns or another formal associate of the Court. It is generally phrased as, "Prisoner at the Bar, you have been found Guilty by a jury of your peers of the offense of XYZ. Do you have anything to say as to why the sentence of this Court should not now be passed upon you?" The defense counsel will then make a ''plea in mitigation'' (also called ''submissions on penalty'') in an attempt to mitigate the relative seriousness of the offense and heavily refer to and rely upon the defendant's previous good character and good works, if any. The right to make a plea in mitigation is absolute. If a judge or magistrate refuses to hear such a plea or does not properly consider it, the sentence can be overturned on appeal.

United States

In most of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, defendants are allowed the opportunity to allocute before a sentence is passed. Some jurisdictions hold that as an absolute right. In its absence, a sentence but not the conviction may be overturned, resulting in the need for a new sentencing hearing. In the federal system,
Federal Rules of Criminal ProcedureThe Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are the procedural rules that govern how federal criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Stat ...
32(i)(4) provides that the court must "address the defendant personally in order to permit the defendant to speak or present any information to mitigate the sentence." The
Federal Public DefenderIn the United States, federal Public defender (United States), public defender organizations are entities in the United States Federal Government, and their staffs are federal employees. Federal public defenders handle criminal trials in United State ...
recommends that defendants speak in terms of how a lenient sentence will be sufficient but not greater than necessary to comply with the statutory directives set forth in .

See also

Confession (law) In the law of criminal evidence, a confession is a statement by a suspect in crime which is adverse to that person. Some secondary authorities, such as Black's Law Dictionary ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most widely used law dictionary Image: ...


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