Reference or character letters have great potential to influence the sentencing court. Judges review these letters before the sentencing hearing. Depending on the author and content, some letters are more easily dismissed than others.
1. Who Should be writing the letters? Family members, spouses, friends, community members. Letters from unexpected writers, including ex-employers, are always great to have.
2. Accountability. Focus on the defendant and not the conduct. Do not tell the judge that the person is innocent and could not have committed the crime. Do not tell the judge how much time in custody or fine the defendant deserves. Watch the tone and keep the message concise.
3. Community support is a crucial component of success. Specify specific examples of how you are willing to help the defendant.
4. Proper grammar and punctuation (children’s letters are an exception). No more than 2-3 pages. Address the court, date, and sign. Explain your relationship to the defendant.
5. Do not write generic letters. Do not write multiple letters in the same font and format. Give examples of why you’re relative is a good person. What did he do for you? How did he support you before his arrest? Do not give letters to the probation, prosecution, or the court directly. Please have your attorney review the letters first.
I wish your loved one a fair outcome at the sentencing proceedings. If you are my client, you are welcome to ask for sample letters that I’ve compiled over the years. These letters are always confidential and identifying information is removed.
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
185 West F Street Suite 100-D
San Diego, CA 92101
Based in San Diego, CA
Licensed: California, Nevada, and Federal Courts
The San Diego-based business litigation and criminal defense attorneys at LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM are experienced and dedicated professionals singularly focused on one goal: achieving the best results for our clients. Through our hard work and expertise, we guarantee all of our clients that we will diligently protect their rights and zealously pursue justice. Our clients deserve nothing less!