November 25, 2021 | Criminal Defense
In this blog, Suhre & Associates criminal defense lawyers explain some tips for an effective character letter for a judge in Cincinnati, Ohio. In our experience, strong character letters can be one of the most important parts of a sentencing hearing.
Judges have wide latitude in the length and type of sentence they impose for most crimes. Sometimes, judges are bound by mandatory minimums and strict sentencing guidelines, but more often, they are free to use their discretion. Things like probation, fines, and treatment programs may be available to reduce prison time if sentencing goes well.
Skilled criminal defense attorneys will spend time preparing for a sentencing hearing with their clients. They will help the client prepare a statement, if appropriate. The lawyer will also have their own arguments for a lenient sentence based on mitigating factors and your character. Character letters can make a huge difference in the eyes of a judge.
#1 Who Should You Seek a Character Letter From?
The first tip for an effective character letter is to ask the right people for letters. Judges will give more consideration to letters written by specific people. Usually, we like to have character letters at least a week before a sentencing hearing so we can review them.
The following people are the best character references:
- Teachers or coaches
- Mental Health Counselors
- Addiction Counselors
- Religious leaders
Because everyone’s situation and relationships are different, you need to choose the right people for your circumstances. Your lawyer will be a really good resource for you to discuss your character letter options with. While one letter can go a long way, having multiple is even better.
#2 What Should a Character Letter Say?
Our second tip for an effective character letter for a judge is to make sure the letter will address the right types of information. Judges consider specific facts about someone before imposing a sentence, and you don’t want any key information left out!
Some good talking points for your reference include:
- Why they think you are a good person
- Why you deserve a lenient sentence
- Your work ethic / work history
- Your involvement in the family and why they need you
- Your community involvement
- They will support you and help you out of trouble
Of course, the type of information provided will vary depending on who is writing the letter. A mother’s character letter is going to have different information than an employer or counselor, of course. Likewise, the type of case might require a character reference to use a different tone. For instance, a simple drug possession charge might not require as in-depth a character letter as a theft or weapons charge.
The key to strong character letters is that the writer speaks honestly and from the heart. A judge, and anyone else for that matter, can see through fake emotions or pandering. A letter that is clearly truthful and from the heart will have the most impact.
#3 Ask Them to Come to Your Hearing
The final tip for an effective character letter in Cincinnati, Ohio, is to ask the writers to come to your court hearing. Having a reference show up at your hearing serves two purposes.
First, it makes the letter more credible. By showing up, the writer is standing behind what they said in the letter. If they don’t come to court, the letter won’t have as much weight.
Second, having the letter writer come to the hearing shows that you have the support of family and community members. Empty benches in the courtroom behind the defendant send the wrong signal to the court. Having a few people there for you goes a long way. It lets the court see that you are a real person and have important relationships and loved ones. This makes a lenient sentence much more likely.
Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202