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What You Need to Know About Character Letters

The judge makes decisions regarding criminal sentences. Whether you plea out of court or go to trial and receive a guilty verdict, the judge determines your punishment and how long it will last. In order to show the judge your character, you may provide the judge with a character letter. If you believe you may use this technique in the hopes it will influence your sentence, read on.

Why Should You Use a Character Letter?

Character letters provide several benefits. First, the character letter should provide a full view of your sense of character beyond the crime of which the court has convicted you. The individual writing on your behalf seeks to demonstrate that your character isn’t as simple as the crime.

Who Should Write a Character Letter? 

Anybody can write a character letter on your behalf. You would be smart to consider the position of the writer in your community or in your life before you ask them to write the letter. For example, you might have one letter come from a close family member, another letter come from somebody you know professionally, and then another letter from a community or church leader you know.

What Should a Character Letter Include?

The first paragraph of a character letter typically establishes the letter writer’s credibility. The paragraph should detail you long the individual has known you and how you came into contact. The writer might discuss the recommendations for sentencing but argue that they should reconsider the recommendations.

Next, the writer should include information that will stand out to the judge. Why are you more than a defendant? What should the judge take note of in regards to the wealth of your character? At this point in the letter, the writer should aim to show how generous, kind, or respectful you are rather than to simply state it. The more examples the writer can provide, the better.

Finally, ensure the writer includes their contact information, including a phone number, email address, or mailing address in case the judge wants to verify the information.

What Should a Character Letter Not Include?

If you ask somebody to write a character letter for you, ensure they do not intend to write in the letter that you are not guilty or argue the facts of the case. Once the verdict has been passed, the letter writer should stick with the fact that the verdict stands. The character letter should rather provide a complete picture.

Who Receives the Character Letters?

The ways in which character letters make their way to the judge may differ by court, but you should always pass letters through your defense attorney. Your attorney can answer some of your questions about character letters as well as help writers format their letters and include only helpful information.

What Else Can You Do to Improve Your Sentencing?

One of the best things you can do to ensure you receive a fair sentence is to work with a criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney ensures you are treated in accordance with the law and are not mistreated by the criminal justice system. Defense attorneys do more than help you in the course of your trial–they also ensure the criminal justice system respects your civil and human rights.

Carl L. Britt, Jr. offers professional criminal defense when you need it most. Whether you need witnesses or a character letter for the judge, you have strong representation on your side. Call our qualified attorneys today to discuss your legal options. We are ready to fight for you and your rights in and out of court.


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