If you have been asked to provide a character reference for someone going to court, you may be wondering what that entails. A character reference is a letter or statement written by someone who knows the person well and can attest to their good character. In this blog post, I will discuss the contents of a character reference and what the judge will be looking for.
Contents of a character reference letter for court
- Why do you think the person you are writing about is of good character?
- What kind of things has this person done that show they are a good person?
- Have you ever seen this person behave in a way that shows they are not of good character? If so, please explain.
- Be honest – the judge will see right through any false statements
- Be concise – stick to one page if possible
Ensure your letter is typed and formatted correctly as well as checking for spelling and grammar mistakes. This will show you have taken time and trouble to write the reference.
What the judge wants to know
When providing a character reference for court, it is important to remember that the judge will be looking for specific information. In general, they will want to know why you believe the person is of good character and what kind of things they have done to demonstrate this. It is also important to be aware of any negative behaviour the person may have displayed, as this could impact their case. By taking the time to provide a well-written character reference with honesty and referring to all the person’s character flaws and positive traits, you will be helping them to present themselves in the best light possible to the court.
Try to mention times when they have helped others, shown good judgement or behaved in a way that would be considered admirable. If you know the person has made any mistakes, try to frame these in a positive light as well. For example, if they have had problems with alcohol or drugs, you could mention that they have since sought help and are now sober.
The following is an example of a character reference letter, feel free to adapt it for your own letter.
Character reference letter for court – Sample 1
I am writing to you today regarding a character reference for [accused’s name].
I believe I am qualified to speak to the individual’s character as I have known them for [length of time] as their [friend / work colleague / pastor etc] and can attest that they are [add positive things you have seen them do, or anything that can help them to be seen in a positive light].
Although I realise that they have been charged with [charges], I believe that they are truly sorry for this and based on what I have observed of them in the past, I feel this was very much an out of character event. For example, since their arrest [they have volunteered at a soup kitchen/raised money for charity/been involved in local politics etc].
In the past they have dabbled with drugs but they are now clean and sober and regularly attending AA meetings. Also the friends who so badly influenced them in their poor behaviour have been cut off and [name] has now enrolled in college to pursue a course in [bricklaying / hairdressing / GED etc]. This has had a positive effect on their outlook on life and they no longer stay out all night and currently have a 100% attendance record at college.
I am confident that if given the opportunity, this person will continue to display these improved character traits.
I hope that you will take this reference into consideration when making your decision in this case. Thank you for your time and consideration.