Best Way to Write a Good Character Witness Statement

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Writing a character witness statement for a defendant may help them receive a reduced sentence. Without a statement, all the judge knows about the defendant is the crime committed and how the defendant acts in court. Attorneys or the defendants themselves may ask you to write a witness statement.

Since the letter is going to be reviewed by a judge, the format and tone of the statement must be professional. Make sure you have the judge's name and title correct. Be honest in your statement. Being dishonest damages your reputation and does not help the defendant.

Introduce yourself by name and profession. Tell the judge who you are writing the letter for. Let the judge know that you are aware of the charges against the defendant. When you know the charges against the defendant it sends the judge a message that you do know what the defendant has done but that you are still willing to write positively about the defendant.

Next, discuss how you met the defendant and how long you have known him or her. Doing so establishes your relationship with the defendant. Provide specific examples of good deeds the defendant has done. If the defendant has done volunteer work in the community, provide names of the organizations and the types of activities he or she participated in.

If the defendant is a good provider for the family or is devoted to his or her family, bring that up and provide examples. Again, be truthful. Has the defendant given up work or education to take care of a sick relative? Does the defendant refuse to go out drinking with his or her friends or coworkers to spend more time with his or her family?

Conclude by saying how the defendant's incarceration will negatively affect their present, their future, their job, and their life. Be specific. Explain how the defendant's incarceration will affect his or her family and employer. Explain how the defendant has learned from their mistake, what steps they have taken to change, and that you believe they will not make the same mistake again.

Include a telephone number in your conclusion so that the judge may reach you with any questions. Doing so shows that you are serious about helping the defendant and that you mean what you say.

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