Character Reference Letters for Court Appearances

In general, character reference letters are meant for endorsing the positive aspects of a person, and are often used for employment purposes. When it comes to legal matters, such letters are usually used to portray the positive side of a person, who is charged with an offense. This may prove helpful, especially in cases where the accused is a first-time offender, or where the accused has been falsely implicated. Such reference letters are also used in child custody cases. It is not necessary that such a letter be written by an 'important person' of the society. It could be the wife, friend, colleague, neighbor or even a child. The main aim is to draw a positive picture and provide some useful information about the concerned person, so that he is not judged only on the basis of the charge against him.

How to Write a Character Reference Letter for Court

Sometimes, you may be required to draft character reference letters for court appearances. Though it is like any other character reference letter, you must keep in mind that your letter is addressed to the presiding officer of a court. Make sure that whatever you write is true. You must be ready to depose before the court, as a character witness, if required. The following are some tips and guidelines that will help you draft a character recommendation letter for court.

Formalities

When writing a character reference letter for court, address it correctly. It could be like, 'To the Presiding Magistrate', or 'To the Presiding Judge', according to the type of court, where the concerned case is pending. It is better to begin the letter with the greeting, 'Your Honor'. An official letterhead is always preferable for typing a character reference letter for court. Mention your name and complete address in the letter. You can even add your phone number, if the court needs to verify what you have written. Make sure that the letter is signed and dated. You may file the letter through the concerned lawyer, who can also help you with drafting.

Content of the Letter

First of all, introduce yourself and mention your relation with the concerned person. Do not forget to mention the duration of your relationship. You may also add whether the letter is written on your own initiative or on someone else's request.

You must have a basic understanding about the charges levied against the concerned person. If he has already pleaded guilty, there is no point in saying that the person could not have committed that crime.

When you want to write about the positive side of the concerned person, make sure to explain with relevant instances. For example, 'I have known John for more than 10 years and he always helps anyone in need. I have seen him helping his old neighbors with their daily chores. He is a strong animal lover, and I am very proud to say he is one of the kindest and most helpful souls I have ever met."

You can mention the charges levied against the person and counter them with the concerned person's positive characteristics, that are contrary to the charges. If you are sure that the person has not committed such acts before, then you can write that the charges levied are 'out of character'.

If the concerned person has pleaded guilty, you need to mention the charges that the defendant is pleading guilty to. You can write something like, 'I know John is pleading guilty of damage to property under influence of alcohol'.

If there are chances that the charges levied will affect the job or personal life of the accused, mention it in the letter. If the person has a driving charge against him, you can say, 'John needs to drive a lot as a part of his job, and if he does not, he may stand a chance of losing his job in these difficult economic times'. You can mention anything that is absolutely relevant and help the defendant in a positive way.

The above said are only a few tips about how to write a character letter for court. In case of doubt, consult the concerned attorney and follow his instructions. The following are some samples of character reference letter for court. It is always advisable to draft a letter on your own, rather than using templates, which may or may not fit your criteria. In short, the letter must contain information about who you are, what is your relation with the concerned person, duration of your relation, what you know about the charges levied and your knowledge about the character of the person.

Sample # 1

4th November 2011

To the Presiding Magistrate,

......................... Court

Re: Character Reference for John Abraham Stonewall

Your Honor,

I am a Non-medical Administrator at St. Jude's Hospital, and have been associated with them for over 6 years. I have known John Abraham Stonewall for 10 years and he is my best friend. I can confirm that he is a man of great integrity, is extremely dedicated to his family and work, and is entirely peace-loving.

Furthermore, I have always seen him help his old neighbors with their daily chores, and coaching the young baseball team of Little Angel's Orphanage on weekends. He is also an animal lover.

I understand that John is pleading guilty to drunk driving. He is highly remorseful and has also abandoned his drinking habit. John needs to drive a lot as a part of his job, and if he does not, he may stand a chance of losing his job in these difficult economic times. He is the only earning member of his family.

Thank you for taking time to read this letter. Kindly consider his situation, when making your decision.

Yours sincerely,

(Signature)

Alec Tom Blackwell

Administrator,

St. Jude's Hospital

Sample # 2

4th November 2011

To the Presiding Judge,

.......................... Court

Re: Character Reference for John Abraham Stonewall

Your Honor,

I am a Non-medical Administrator at St. Jude's Hospital, and have been associated with them for over 6 years. I have known John Stonewell for the last 10 years. John has been my next door neighbor since the past six years. He has also been my friend since High School and we share a very close friendship.

During this time, I have found John to be a kind and trustworthy person. John had a troubled childhood. His father expired when he was 10, and his mother faced a lot of hardships for raising him. He was doing some petty jobs, since he left school. Now he is settled with a good construction job, and is doing well over the past couple of years.

I understand that he has been charged with 'damage to property under the influence of alcohol'. According to John, he threw the vase on the counter towards the wall, which accidentally hit the window. He told me that he was under the influence of alcohol, and got agitated when the waiter denied serving him more drinks.

John has told me that he is extremely embarrassed about his behavior and would not have behaved the way he did, if he had been at a sober state. He was also willing to pay for the damage caused and to repair the broken window. What he did was not intentional, and he regrets for his behavior. Please be lenient to him on behalf of his friends and family.

Yours sincerely,

(Signature)

Alec Tom Blackwell

Administrator,

St. Jude's Hospital

Sample # 3

4th November 2011

To the Presiding Judge,

......................... Court

Re: Character Reference for John Abraham Stonewall

Your Honor,

John had requested me to write a character reference letter with regard to his larceny case. But the truth is that I had already thought of doing so, before he made the request.

John is a man of good moral character. It may seem hard to believe in the given circumstances, but this is true nonetheless. I have known him since the day he walked over to the 'Holy Cross Home for the Aged', about 5 years ago. In these five years, we have become good friends and I have seen him go through several ups and downs. This has made me believe that he is a decent man at the core. He has dedicated many hours of his weekends helping the old. He organizes activities for the aged and spends time with them. He is bound to leave you with a smile, every time you meet him.

As you can see, it is totally out of his character to be charged with a crime, like larceny. He is a smart, young, and dedicated volunteer at Holy Cross. John is also a student, and is working hard to complete his graduation with honors. The larceny charge will have a negative impact on his future - both in academic as well as social work. I am sure, there may have been some mistake, as John is not the type of person to take anything that does not belong to him. I hope you will take into consideration the future of this young man, and make a fair decision.

If you wish to verify any of the above statements, please do not hesitate to call me on this number - ............................

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,

(Signature)

Alec Tom Blackwell

Administrator,

St. Jude's Hospital

When writing a character reference letter for court, mention only those points that are true. Do not fake anything as it may prove detrimental for the person concerned. The letter must have a tone of respect, and must be clear and concise. Make sure not to offend the addressee in any way. Never suggest the penalty to the Judge. In short, the letter must be well-thought and carefully written.

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