How to write a letter about a friend's character for court

Updated April 17, 2017

A character reference letter for court is a letter that has impact on what the judge will sentence the defendant for. A character letter is supposed to include information about the defendant, for example that he is a hardworking person and contributes to society. You can write a professional character reference letter to help give your friend a better chance at their sentencing from the judge.

Address the character reference letter appropriately. When writing the letter for a local court, address the judge as "The Presiding Judge" or "The Presiding Magistrate." Indent the salutation line. The judge will interpret this gesture positively as the letter is being addressed to him directly instead of a being a general character reference letter.

Type "Your Honor" instead of "Dear Sir or Dear Madam." Describe how long you have known the defendant and what the defendant is pleading guilty for.

Write a personal letter that illustrates that the defendant is a good member of society and contributes. Include stories that show that the defendant helped you or other people. Avoid stating what penalty you think the defendant should get and include any other information that you think would be useful in the case.

Type the character reference on letterhead for a professional look and sign and date the letter. Deliver the character letter to the defendant's lawyer as soon as possible.


A character reference letter can come from your wife, co-workers, close friends, family or anyone who has something useful to say for the case.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Printer
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