If you have an acquaintance who committed a crime, they may ask you to write a character witness statement. This type of statement is used by a judge to help them determine what type of sentence should be imposed. In some situations, it can help reduce a sentence as the overall character of a defendant may be good. Without any background history of the defendant, a judge can only go on what he or she sees in court and the facts presented regarding the crime.
Format And Tone
A good character witness statement should be written professionally as it will be reviewed by a judge. It should begin with the date and include the name of the judge and title. For example:
Dear Judge Burnham,
Begin the first paragraph with your name and profession. Let the judge know who you are writing the character witness statement for. You should also indicate that you know the type of charges that the defendant has committed. By letting the judge know that you are aware of the charges committed by the defendant, it shows that you are still willing to write a good character witness statement for them.
History With The Defendant
The second paragraph should indicate your history with the defendant. Begin by telling the judge when you first met the defendant and how long you have known them. This establishes your history and relationship. Continue the statement by listing examples of any good deeds that the defendant has completed in the past. These could be items such as volunteering for the community, working with charitable organizations or coaching young adults. Be sure to include names of organizations as well as any other activities where the defendant was a participant.
Other Supporting Information
If there is other supporting information that portrays the defendant in a positive way, you should include this in another paragraph. If the defendant took care of a sick relative or is a good provider, this information can be used. It helps to provide specific examples of positive actions they have taken to better themselves or others.
The conclusion of your statement should indicate how incarceration will negatively affect the defendant. It’s important to be specific and point out how incarceration will affect the defendant’s family, employment and future life. Let the judge know how the defendant plans to make changes in their life and that you believe that they have learned a valuable lesson.
Include your telephone number in case the judge wants to speak with you or has any questions regarding the matter. This shows your seriousness and truthfulness about what you have written. End the statement with the following: