|A Proper Apology Can Be Priceless|
As a criminal defense attorney I sometimes act as a professional apologist. A well written or stated apology can go a long way to resolving conflict, lessening punishment, and bringing closure to a damaged party. This will be a three part blog series on creating a successful apology.
Knowing when to apologize, and how to apologize can really make a difference in many criminal cases.
Apologies Must NOT Happen Before Criminal Guilt is Assessed
You "almost" never want to write an apology before you have a plea bargain in place. Because an apology admits to guilt, and you never want to admit guilt without a deal.
When I state above "almost" never there are exceptions where a plea bargain is conditioned upon an apology. This is where proof of restitution for any property damage and an apology may actually improve a final case outcome.
For most apologies, they should generally come after a plea bargain and after a guilty plea has been made in court. Apologies must in fact be well timed to the particulars of your situation.
NEW YORK State PSIs and Apologies are Like Carrots and Peas
Apologies should also be made for PSI (pre-sentence investigation) purposes. The PSI is where probation interviews you, investigates all the particulars of your life and your charges, and then makes a sentencing recommendation.
PSIs come after a plea has been entered in court. PSIs are always ordered on felonies and are sometimes ordered on more serious misdemeanors. PSIs are also mandatory for all Youthful Offenders (under 19 years of age).
Following the proper order of a PSI is to admit your guilt for the crime committed. Someone that plea's guilty to a crime but feels they dis not do anything wrong or did not actually commit it is a problem on many levels. You should never ever admit or plea guilty to something you didn't do.
On the other hand after you have plead guilty is NOT the time to back pedal. Not the time to say BUT I am not responsible or they deserved it or I didn't mean to or it wasn't my intention to or any other BUT?
The First Rule of Apology is Ownership
You must completely, 100% own what you did. There is no BUT after admitting your guilt and ownership. No explaining it or trying to place yourself as the victim. Ownership means owning up and that means reciting all that you did or did not do that was wrong. Behavior whether in actions or omissions to act (yes both acting and failing to) need to be admitted to.
You have to say or state what you did and HOW it affected other people. How it harmed or could have harmed other people. Many DWI or DWAI drug cases have no true victim except society. The community was placed in danger. Other drivers were placed in harm's way.
I always write out an apology on paper first so I can be clear about the points I want to make.
In the next blog post, contrition I will lay out the reasons for and the ways to explain remorse.