2 Things To Know Before You Write A Character Letter Of Reference For A Criminal

If you know someone that was recently charged with a serious crime, there is a chance that you might be able to help this person receive a lighter sentencing by writing a letter to the court. This type of letter is called a character letter of reference, and a letter like this is often used by the court to determine what punishment to give to a person convicted of a crime. If you would like to write a letter like this, here are two things you should know.

It May Have No Impact

While the letter should be addressed directly to the judge handling the case, there is no guarantee that the judge will use it while deciding the sentencing for the convict. If you include the right information, though, it certainly will not hurt the person at all.

A character letter of reference is often written by someone that has a credible reputation, such as a counselor, minister, or teacher. The person writing the letter is vouching for the criminal, and is pleading on his or her behalf for lenience on the person. If the judge decides to factor in the information from the letter, he or she is basically relying on the writer's reputation.

What It Should Include

A character letter of reference should be formal, professional, and polite. It should include your name as the writer of the letter and your address. You should begin the letter by politely addressing the judge using words such as "To the Honorable Judge" followed by his or her name. After that you should write:

  • Who you are writing this letter on behalf of – Include the person's name and any additional information if necessary.
  • Who you are – Include important details about who you are, your credentials, and how you know this person.
  • What you are asking the court to do – Be clear about your purpose of the letter. In most cases, the purpose is to ask the court to offer a lighter sentencing.
  • The reasons for your request – Including positive information about the person could be helpful to the judge as he or she reads the letter. Positive information about what you see in this person could help persuade the judge to consider a lighter sentencing.

Always thank the court for taking the time to read and consider your request, and end the letter by signing your name.

If you are not sure how to write a letter like this, talk to the criminal lawyer that is handling the case. He or she might be able to give you some tips that could help you write a good letter of reference for someone you know well.

For more information, contact a legal office like Law Offices Of Timothy J Ormes.