Character Reference for Court: Our Helpful Guide to Writing a Powerful Letter

Writing a character reference for court may appear to be a daunting task with high stakes. This Business Kitz blog will take you through all the basic things to include in a character reference, and will provide a structural guide on how you can create your own.

What is a character reference?

A character reference is a written statement provided by someone who knows an individual well and can vouch for their character and personal qualities. It is typically used as additional information for a potential employer, landlord, or other entity that may be considering the individual for a job, housing, or other opportunity. Such documents can provide valuable information about an individual’s personality and reputation. A reference letter should highlight the individual’s positive traits, and provide examples that support these claims. It is important that a character reference is truthful and accurate, as a false reference can have negative consequences for the individual.

What is a character reference for court?

A character reference for court is a written statement that provides information about the character and behaviour of an individual who is appearing in court. It is typically written by someone who knows the individual well, such as a friend, family member, co-worker, or former teacher or employer. The purpose of a character reference for court is to provide additional information to the judge or jury about the defendant’s background, personality, and reputation, in order to help them make a more informed decision.

It is important to note that a character reference for court should be truthful and accurate. The writer should not make any false or misleading statements, and should avoid any negative or inflammatory language.  If the writer is unable to provide a positive reference, it is better not to write one at all, as a negative reference can have serious consequences for the defendant.

Who can write a character reference for court?

Anyone who knows the defendant well and can provide information about their character and behaviour can write a character reference for court. This may include friends, family members, co-workers, former teachers, or former employers. The writer should have a close relationship with the defendant and be able to provide specific examples of their positive qualities and behaviours. It is important to note that the writer should be neutral and avoid taking sides in the case. They should provide a fair and balanced view of the defendant’s character and behaviour, and be truthful and accurate in their statement. Ultimately, the person writing the character reference should be someone who can provide credible and relevant information to the judge or jury about the defendant’s background, personality, and reputation.

Structuring a character reference

A character reference for court should be well-written, professional, respectful, and should be free of any errors and typos. The following is a general format that can be used when writing a character reference letter for court:

  1. Heading: Include your name, address, telephone number, and email address.
  2. Introduction: Identify the purpose of the letter and provide an overview of who you are and your relationship with the defendant. Mention how long you have known them and the nature of your relationship.
  3. Background: Provide a brief background of the defendant, highlighting their personal, educational, and professional achievements.
  4. Body: Provide specific examples of the defendant’s positive qualities and behaviours to support your assessment. Emphasise their good character and reputation. Ensure every example is relevant, appropriate, and supportive of the defendant’s case.
  5. Impact: Explain how the defendant has impacted your life, and how their positive qualities have made a difference in your life, and the lives of others.
  6. Explanation of the case:  Provide a brief overview of the case, the circumstances surrounding the case, and explain why the defendant’s character and behaviour are relevant to the case and why the court should take this into consideration. You can also detail how the actions by the defendant that lead to the case are out of character and not a true reflection of who they are.
  7. Closing: End the letter by reiterating your support for the defendant, expressing confidence in their ability to overcome any challenges they may face, and wishing them the best for their case.
  8. Signature: End the letter with your signature, followed by your printed name and contact information.
Person writing a character reference for court

Keep in mind…

When writing a character reference for court, it’s important to ensure throughout that you;

  • Use a professional tone: Avoid using slang, profanity, or inflammatory language. Write the letter in a professional and respectful tone.
  • Are concise: Keep the letter concise and avoid including any irrelevant information.
  • Proofread: Proofread the letter for errors, typos, and grammatical mistakes. A well-written and error-free letter will be more credible and persuasive.
  • Are honest: One of the most important aspects of the entire letter is to be honest and truthful in your assessment of the defendant’s character and behaviour. Do not exaggerate or make any false or misleading statements.
  • Use a neutral tone: Avoid expressing opinions or taking sides in the case. Use a neutral tone and stick to the facts.
  • Are on time: The character reference should be submitted to the court in a timely manner as this will give the judge or jury adequate time to review it and consider its contents.

Outcome of a character reference for court

The outcome of a character reference in court can be significant in determining the defendant’s fate. By providing a well-written and truthful reference, the writer can provide valuable information to the judge or jury and support a more favourable outcome.

However, it is important to note that a character reference is just one factor that is considered in a court case, and the final decision is based on a combination of factors, including the evidence, witness testimony, and the defendant’s own statements. Nevertheless, a character reference can provide valuable information to support the defendant and contribute to a fair and just outcome in the case.

Legal Advice

Each state and territory has differing advice and requirements for character references. Whilst the above guide works as a general format to follow, it is important you check for your relevant state’s guidelines to ensure it is acceptable.

If you have any queries or are unsure about writing a character reference for court, you may wish to seek further advice. Our sister company, Legal Kitz, can assist with ensuring that your concerns are addressed, and can provide you with advice that is tailored to your situation. You can book a free 30-minute consultation with our experienced and highly qualified team via our website now.

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