Chicago (CNN) -- Attorneys for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who faces up to 20 years in prison for corruption, said Tuesday the possible penalty is excessive and asked the judge to show mercy.
Blagojevich was convicted of corruption in June, when a jury returned 17 guilty verdicts against him. Federal prosecutors are asking that he be sentenced to between 15 and 20 years.
"He doesn't deserve mercy (just) because he has a family -- his family deserves mercy," defense attorney Aaron Goldstein said on the first day of a two-day sentencing hearing.
The former governor, a Democrat, was accused of trying to profit as he considered whom to appoint to succeed Barack Obama when he vacated his Senate seat to move to the White House. He is expected to address the court on Wednesday.
His attorney also read from letters written by Blagojevich's family members, who begged the judge to be lenient.
"Your honor, I ask you humbly -- with the life of my husband and the childhood of my daughters in your hands -- be merciful," his wife, Patti, wrote.
Blagojevich's teenage daughter said: "I need my father. I need him here."
Blagojevich is the second consecutive Illinois governor convicted of corruption. Former Republican Gov. George Ryan is serving time in federal prison.