How to Get a Criminal Sentence Reduced or Modified


In 2018, the First Step Act was proposed, which would allow judges to have more discretion in sentencing. This could mean shorter prison terms and lightened sentences for certain criminal cases. The bill was passed as a law in 2019, and it has already benefited some convicts.

With this law now valid, how can it affect the present and future convicts? If, for instance, someone close to you gets sentenced to jail for committing an offense, how can they get their sentence changed or reduced?

First, the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Kent will be necessary. Lawyers can help your convicted loved one take steps that can convince judges to lower their prison time.

Here are the circumstances that allow a sentence to be modified or reduced.


Illegal Sentence

A sentence can be unconstitutional or unlawful. An illegal sentence is one without a basis in law or is imposed by the court without jurisdiction. It can also be a result of a clerical or technical error.

A sentence can be deemed illegal if it isn’t within the acceptable range of penalties for a specific crime. It means that it isn’t conforming to the requirements of the statute. Ambiguous sentences, or those that do not have precise and exact terms, are also deemed illegal.

If a convict appeals for a plea bargain and the given sentence doesn’t comply with it, then it can also be considered as an illegal sentence. However, proving that a sentence is illegal doesn’t always mean a reduced prison sentence.

Depending on the nature of the crime, the new punishment can be harsher. On the contrary, if the first sentence is given is proven legal, then it can no longer be modified in any way.


Second Look Sentencing

Second look sentencing is a process in which a sentence will automatically be reviewed after 15 years by retired judges, aiming for possible modification or even release.

Subsequent reviews will also be performed within ten years, even with the sentence’s minimum parole eligibility date.



If the defendant agrees to cooperate with the prosecution fully, their charges can be reduced, or their sentences can be lightened if they haven’t been detained yet.

If their cases have already been finalized, they can be promised with a reduced sentence.

Within one year of being convicted, the defendant may petition for a reduction of their sentence if they provided “substantial assistance,” or in other words, willingly cooperated with the prosecution.


Granting of Good Time

Convicts who observe good behavior in prison can be awarded “good time” or “meritorious credit.” Awarded convicts can have their prison time reduced before becoming eligible for parole or completing their sentences.

Some places, however, don’t grant good time to inmates who are guilty of murder and other heinous crimes.

Convicts of at least 70 years of age who have already served a minimum of 30 years in prison may also have their prison times modified. That is, if the Director of the Bureau of Prison recommends it and if they feel that the convict is no longer a danger to society.

It will also help to know your rights as an incarcerated or charged individual. Ask your lawyer for ways to file a plea. If you’re someone with a loved one who’s currently serving time in prison, encourage them to cooperate with the prosecution to increase their chances of serving shorter prison time.

Are you trying to get a sentence reduced?

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