Have you just been asked to write a character reference letter for someone who has to appear in court before a judge? If you have never done this before, then you might be wondering, “what exactly is a character letter for court?” You might also wonder what reference letter template you need to follow and if there is any sample character reference letter out there that you can replicate. Let’s explore a character letter in more detail.
What Is A Character Letter For Court?
A character reference letter for court, also known as a character witness letter, is a written statement that you give to the judge regarding the mental and moral qualities of a person who has broken the law and has been charged with a crime. This is similar to a live statement that you would give at court testifying for the person’s character. The only difference is that a character reference letter is written instead.
A good letter of character can give the judge a better picture regarding the defendant and help decide the sentence the defendant needs to serve. This is why most character letters are written by “referees” who might intimately know the defendant or are in close contact with them.
Character letters provide a full understanding of the defendant's character and personality in a manner that no lawyers can provide. This is why character letters can either help reduce the defendant's sentence or dismiss the case entirely. It might even help the defendant to remain conviction-free by producing a non-conviction penalty from the court.
Who May Need A Character Reference Letter For Court?
There are some cases that reach the court where the judge may need to understand the character of the defendant better before pronouncing a sentence. Take, for example, a child custody case where a couple is fighting to retain guardianship rights over their child. In such a case, it might help to have a character reference letter written in favor of the parent involved in the case. This letter will demonstrate to the judge that the parent is of sound character and is fit to take care of a child.
Similarly, a character reference can also be written in favor of someone who has been charged with a DUI, where the judge might be able to give a reduced sentence if the letter speaks favorably of the defendant. As such, a character letter may be written for just about any person who wishes to have the case be drawn in their favor by making their good character and personality fully known to the court.
Key Components Of A Sample Character Reference Letter For Court
Even though a character letter for court has to sound as natural as possible, there are four key components that every letter of character must contain.
- The name of the Referee, i.e., the name of the person writing the letter
- The kind of relationship that the Referee and the Defendant share
- An understanding of the defendant’s character and personality
- Positive attributes/favorable impressions of the defendant
How To Write A Character Letter For Court?
Writing a character reference letter is actually quite simple. You need to cover all of the following aspects in the letter:
Introduction: The court needs to know a little bit about you before believing what you say about the defendant. Introduce yourself in the letter and talk about your occupation.
Relationship with the Defendant: You will need to define your relationship with the person appearing before the court. Write about how long you have known him/her and in what capacity, i.e., friend, co-worker, employer, family member, and so on.
Charges brought against Defendant: It is important to address the charges that have been brought against the offender without downplaying them. Talk about how the defendant felt with regard to the incident that brought them to the court, and mention whether they have sought any form of treatment/rehabilitation for it.
Opinion of the defendant’s character: This is the most crucial part of the letter where you will try to uphold the integrity of the person who has been charged with an offense. You must state that this incident seems out of character with their general behavior. You can also mention the favorable reputation that the defendant enjoys within the larger community.
If you are looking for a reference letter template online, look no further than CocoDoc. CocoDoc has a wide range of character reference letters for court that you can customize, download, and print on the go.