FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. If you are facing drug crime charges or have a probation violation, one of the biggest concerns you might have is how long you might spend in jail. In cases where the judge has discretion over the sentencing, the case that your criminal defense lawyer presents can make an immense difference in how long you are sent to jail. After all, it is your lawyer’s job to help the judge see that you are more than a statistic, and more than the crime for which you have been convicted.

Many individuals facing jail sentencing may not always realize the impact that storytelling and narrative might have on their case. The story you tell the judge, or the story your criminal defense lawyer presents, matters when it comes to sentences that are at the discretion of a judge.

According to the Atlantic, some criminal defense attorneys are starting to create or commission documentaries to make an emotional case for their clients in court. Language and storytelling are powerful tools, but sometimes adding visuals to the story can make the individual’s situation more readily visible to a judge or jury. According to the New York Times, more and more criminal defense lawyers are looking to the power of storytelling to help their clients see reduced jail sentences. These sentencing mitigation videos are sometimes made by the lawyer himself or herself and sometimes a production company is hired to create the videos. In some cases, these sentencing mitigation videos can be as artfully produced as traditional documentaries, and there is a growing field of producers, videographers, and lawyers whose work involves making these videos. Some lawyers claim that they do produce positive results.

However, these videos can be costly. They average anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000. If you are facing a conviction and sentencing, does it make sense to commission such a video? It depends. If you are facing conviction for a crime where there are mandatory minimum sentencing standards in place, then the judge might have less impact on your sentencing. However, if sentencing and jail time are at the discretion of a judge, a sentencing mitigation video could be a compact and artful way to make a strong case, by bringing the judge’s emotions into play when making a decision.

In fact, there are so many individuals seeking these videos that there is now a film festival devoted entirely to sentencing mitigation videos. Proponents of the videos claim that they force judges to look beyond numbers and formulas and require them to think of the person they will be sending to jail. After all, personal factors are permitted in cases where judges have discretion. Sometimes telling a judge why a person did what they did can also be helpful. For example, in one of these videos, a man might explain that he sold drugs to pay for his mother’s medical expenses or to cover rent that had become desperately past due. Helping a judge understand why a crime may have occurred can help in the outcome of some cases.

So, should you use a sentencing mitigation video during sentencing if you are charged with a crime? It depends on your case. More important is having a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can present the facts, and tell your story to the judge in a compelling manner. Michael D. Weinstein, P.A. is a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who is closely watching as criminal law evolves with new technology and innovations. Every case is unique. If you are facing criminal charges, reach out to our firm at to learn more about how we may be able to protect your rights.

Michael D. Weinstein, P.A.
Courthouse Place
12 Southeast 7th Street, Suite 713
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
Telephone: 954-761-1420


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