Writing A Letter Of Reference For Someone? Here Are Three Things To Know


When someone you know well has been convicted of a crime, you may be asked to write a character reference letter. This kind of letter is typically sent to the judge handling sentencing and its intended purpose is to convince the judge to be lenient and hand down a lighter sentence. If you plan to submit a letter of reference to the court for a friend, here are a couple of things you must know.

Your Own Character is Relevant

Because a letter of reference requires the judge to rely on the reputation of the person writing the letter, it is important that your character be above reproach. If you have had problems with the law yourself, it is important that you mention this to your friend's lawyer before you write any letter to the judge so that you don't make things worse for your friend.

What Your Letter Should Be Like

Your letter should be both professional and formal. Remember to include your friend's name and yours, as well as any contact information so that the judge can reach out to you for more information if necessary. Also be sure to include the following information:

  • Your Credentials--One of the reasons the letter could be successful is that you have credentials the judge might respect. For instance, you might be a counselor, teacher or pastor.
  • Your relationship to the accused--Be sure to mention how you know the accused and how long you have known them.
  • Reasons for a lighter sentence--you might include positive qualities that you know your friend has, ways that you have seen them transform for the better, or any other information that might convince the judge that your friend deserves a lighter sentence.

End your letter with gratitude to the court for reading it and sign it.

It May Have No Effect

Realize that even if your letter is a glowing one, the judge may hand down a severe sentence anyway. Be aware that this is a possibility, and plan what you will do if your letter does not result in the lenience you were seeking. You might want to financially contribute to an appeal for your friend, or you might want to help their family to make sense of everything that is happening.

Use the information laid out above to help you write a letter of reference for someone you know. If you need more help, consult the criminal lawyer in charge of your friend's case or a law office like Cross, LaCross, & Murphy PLLC. They can help you craft a solid letter.


7 November 2015

Working With Your Attorney

Few things are more frustrating than being accused of a crime that you didn't commit. I found myself in this difficult situation a few years ago when I was with a friend who broke the law. However, I knew that I didn't do anything, which is why I hired an experienced criminal attorney to help me out. He carefully reviewed my case, talked with me about what court would be like, and helped me to wrap my head around the different punishments I might face. He helped to prove my innocence, and I decided to set up this blog to help other people to understand the importance of working with a professional.