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Understanding the Purpose and Uses of a Character Reference Letter for Court

Many people think of reference letters when they are applying for a new job and need to prove their credentials in pursuit of a career. However, character reference letters are also used in the legal system to help a judge or jury get to know an involved party on a more personal basis.

This article will discuss the uses for a character reference letter for court and provide tips for writing one with the essential components to aid a defendant’s case.

What Is a Character Reference Letter for Court?

The purpose of a character reference letter for court is to paint a defendant in a positive light through the words of someone who knows the defendant well. These letters should be free of legal jargon and are often used in child custody matters. The author of such a letter must be willing to go before the court as a character witness, if requested, and be able to inform the court about positive aspects of the defendant’s character.

A letter of this type is most effective if the defendant is not guilty or if the matter concerns a first offense. However, a character reference letter may also be useful for a guilty defendant if the author describes the action as “out of character” or tells readers how remorseful the defendant is about a crime committed. Overall, the tone of the letter should be formal, honest, and professional.

It is advisable for the writer of a character reference letter for court to consult the defendant’s attorney to review the letter and make recommendations, if necessary. A character reference letter for child custody can be a deciding factor for visitation rights, where children spend holidays, and other related decisions.

How to Write a Character Reference Letter for Child Custody

If you are asked to write a character reference letter for child custody, there are a few key components to make sure to include in it. To begin your letter, define and describe your relationship with the defendant. You should also express your understanding about the charges being brought against the defendant and why you are qualified to speak on the defendant’s behalf about extenuating circumstances regarding the defendant’s current situation.

It also should include information about how long the author has known the defendant and the nature of the relationship. The most important thing to write about in your letter, however, is your opinion about the defendant’s overall moral fiber and character.

Tips for a Sample Letter to Judge for Child Custody

A character reference letter for court will rarely make or break a case on its own, but it can be one of several valuable components of a defendant’s case that results in a favorable outcome. Rather than only using general adjectives to describe the defendant’s character, such as hardworking or honest, give specific examples to inform the court with details that humanize the defendant and make the court more sympathetic with his or her situation. One way to do this is to share brief, yet specific, stories about your past interactions with the defendant that demonstrate your personal connection and help the court see the person you care about as a person rather than just another defendant. Throughout your letter, make sure to use formal and professional language, and never lie or mislead the court with your written words.

If you could use a little guidance with a character reference letter for court, child custody matters, or for another legal issue, Alatsas Law Firm can help. We specialize in family law, divorce, child custody, and other legal practice areas, and we can help you or your loved one in New York. We welcome you to contact us online or by phone at 718-233-2903 to schedule a free legal consultation.