If I have a friend who’s going to be sentenced in a month, would it be helpful if I wrote a support letter to the judge?

His lawyer has made a deal with the prosecutor to receive an open 5 year sentence. My friend really wants to go into a treatment program and has already contacted the program, but just awaiting sentence.

Asked on July 28, 2014 under Criminal Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If your friend has an attorney, ask him or her and discuss the proposed content of your support letter, to make sure it fits into the lawyer's strategy. A support letter can help, but it's impact is limited--if you are a friend, of  course you would write a support letter. Coming from a friend, the letter may be taken, if not quite as a given, still as something coming from an understandably biased party. On the other hand, if you inadvertantly write something which undercuts or contradicts what your friend has said or the strategy the lawyer has developed, you could hurt your friend. Therefore, make sure that what you propose to do will tie into the overall effort before doing it.


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