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Sarancam416 11-04-2017 02:45 PM

Support letter before entering plea
 
My husband was offered a plea bargain of 3 years, which is a really good deal considering his record. He turned it down and his lawyer is trying to get it to 2 instead so she asked me to write a support letter to give to the assistant da. She gave me an outline and some other points to include, but this is so much harder than i thought lol. Any advice or suggestions from anyone that has written one? I mean she told me what points to include but its hard because im trying not to go too much into detail..and how long should the letter be?

yourself 11-04-2017 05:03 PM

There's a whole sticky in the legal forum about this very thing. Feel free to peruse it. It is a very difficult thing to do - writing this letter. Use what you can offer in the legal forum.

Minor activist 11-04-2017 05:17 PM

What difference do you see between writing to a judge and writing to an assistant DA?

MrsDeeKay 11-04-2017 06:06 PM

I wrote a letter to the judge before sentencing. My understanding is that ultimately it is up to the judge to accept the pre-arranged plea or sentence as he sees fit.

Sarancam416 11-04-2017 06:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Minor activist (Post 7675920)
What difference do you see between writing to a judge and writing to an assistant DA?

Uh, from what she told me im writing this for them to take into consideration for whatever plea bargain they would offer.

MrsDeeKay 11-04-2017 10:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sarancam416 (Post 7675935)
Uh, from what she told me im writing this for them to take into consideration for whatever plea bargain they would offer.



These were basically the instructions I was given:
Speak to his character and moral traits. His contributions to community, volunteering (sports, school projects, fund-raisers),involvement in family. Speak of positive changes he has made and how they came about. Any affiliation with church, AA, NA, etc. Do not get into the details of the case, or whether he may be guilty or innocent.

rockchalk1 11-05-2017 07:20 AM

[quote=MrsDeeKay;7676000]These were basically the instructions I was given:
Speak to his character and moral traits. His contributions to community, volunteering (sports, school projects, fund-raisers),involvement in family. Speak of positive changes he has made and how they came about. Any affiliation with church, AA, NA, etc. Do not get into the details of the case, or whether he may be guilty or innocent.[/QUOTE

I didn't think my husband's attorney would want me to write a character letter in his case, since I thought it would just seem odd because of course I would write nice things, but the attorney said I should most definitely write a letter because I would be able to convey things that possibly other people in their letters wouldn't have done, or that the attorney may not know or have seen about him. I knew I had a lot to say, but didn't know how I was going to say it. One day, I just sat down and instead of writing it as a document, just opened a draft email and starting typing away. Everything sort of flowed from there and it wasn't as difficult or daunting as it seemed. Mine was about 2 pages; I talked about his positive relationship with my kids, what special things he has done for and with them, I taught about his relationship with his kids (even though it is tenuous which the Judge knew, I talked about how he was as a father to them), I talked about charitable things he has done and we have done together, including volunteerism, things he has done for my parents and his mother, friends, and especially for me. I wrote how hard it will be to manage while he is gone, to be a single mom (for the second time as I am divorced), the impact on my kids and me, etc. Trust me, it is not hard to write from the heart. If you have any questions, feel free to pm me. The bottom line is that you want to write from the heart and be honest and the rest will come. Just think of all you will be missing when he is gone, and what he does for you (and others) while he is there.

I said this before in another thread when someone mentioned they didn't think character letters from family and friends made a difference. I disagree. My husband had a lot of letters from all aspects of his life over the last 30+ years and the Judge definitely made a point to mention them and noted that he had read all of them. It was easy to see that this was a blip in my husband's life because of the string of letters and how his character was portrayed.

Even if the judge doesn't read it, and only the prosecutor or someone else does, remember, the point really is to humanize him to them. If he were just a name on paper it is easy to give him 3 years, but if he has a life, a family, a story, it is different. They can then visualize what and who he is, instead of just a name and #!

Good luck!!

Sarancam416 11-05-2017 10:10 AM

Thank you for all ur responses. Its difficult to try and stay on topic and try to word things correctly because the last thing i want to do is influence their decision in a bad way which im sure yall understand. So thank you. I just didnt want the letter to be all over the place..lol so i think im going to try actually writing it first then typing it after that way its more of just flows from the heart. I found trying to type it first makes me think more about whats being said which leads to me questioning everything i write. Of course his lawyer will read it first and make suggestions im sure just wanted to do it right the first time lol because its important.

yourself 11-05-2017 12:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sarancam416 (Post 7676108)
Thank you for all ur responses. Its difficult to try and stay on topic and try to word things correctly because the last thing i want to do is influence their decision in a bad way which im sure yall understand. So thank you. I just didnt want the letter to be all over the place..lol so i think im going to try actually writing it first then typing it after that way its more of just flows from the heart. I found trying to type it first makes me think more about whats being said which leads to me questioning everything i write. Of course his lawyer will read it first and make suggestions im sure just wanted to do it right the first time lol because its important.

it is important. Don't worry about getting it right the first time - that's why you get it to the attorney in plenty of time to make edits. Editing is where you make things clear. It's okay to make mistakes or to be unclear in your first draft. You are so close to the subject it's almost impossible to do it in one go. Take that worry off of yourself. Attorneys who write for a living never do things in one draft without doing several more drafts. And we aren't emotionally tied to the subject!

Let me clarify - there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing more than one draft or making edits. There is nothing wrong with having somebody else read it and ask questions or point out a mistake. I recently read a pleading where the defendant was referred to not by her name, but by the victim,s first name and her last name. Stuff like that happens - this is why a second set of eyes is imperative. This is also why it's okay to revise, edit, and take your time.

rockchalk1 11-05-2017 01:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by yourself (Post 7676161)
it is important. Don't worry about getting it right the first time - that's why you get it to the attorney in plenty of time to make edits. Editing is where you make things clear. It's okay to make mistakes or to be unclear in your first draft. You are so close to the subject it's almost impossible to do it in one go. Take that worry off of yourself. Attorneys who write for a living never do things in one draft without doing several more drafts. And we aren't emotionally tied to the subject!

Let me clarify - there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing more than one draft or making edits. There is nothing wrong with having somebody else read it and ask questions or point out a mistake. I recently read a pleading where the defendant was referred to not by her name, but by the victim,s first name and her last name. Stuff like that happens - this is why a second set of eyes is imperative. This is also why it's okay to revise, edit, and take your time.

Agree 100%. I think we only had one person that when we got theirs, had some factual information incorrect, so we just asked them to fix it. Otherwise we didn't interfere with what anyone said. My husband was just happy people were willing to write the letters and all of the letters were sent to the attorney before being forwarded to the probation officer or Judge, with the exception of one - a very disparaging one from his ex-wife. We were supposed to be notified if she had contacted the prosecutor or Judge beforehand, but unfortunately were not so at sentencing were shocked when the judge mentioned at the beginning of sentencing he had 1 additional character letter from xxx xxx. Ultimately, her letter had no bearing and the Judge did put her in her place. At the actual sentence part he said there were tons of letters on my husbands character and hard work, charitable traits, etc. that he had his entire life and one bad letter. He's going to take the bad letter for what its worth as clearly there's a history there. Were were dying (sarcasm) when we heard that because it had to be a slap in her face. Such a dumbass. Throughout the case she kept calling his lawyer asking him to get her money. From where I would like to know? Her mistake was she sent a letter to a judge thinking she would get sympathy about herself, not understanding that isn't how it works, not to mention she knew nothing about this judge. As our lawyer told us, the judge isn't stupid, he knows how marriages work, and he himself is on his second marriage. Point is, listen to your attorney, the letter matters, edit it as you see fit and know you did the right thing!

Also, as far as editing, definitely have an extra set of eyes. I had done mine early in the process when everyone else was writing theirs and left it in draft form in my email. Ultimately the case just kept getting delayed so I never went back to it. Months later when my husband needed it, I was so wrapped up with other stuff that I just printed it out had him review/edit it and sent it off. I didn't add anything, he was happy with it, and that was it. Well, when we were then later reviewing the sentencing memo from his attorney and it was referring to a back surgery I had and when, I said to my husband that I didn't have surgery that year and we have to correct it. Well it wasn't quoting my character letter, but it was clear the information came out of the letter (because it was in reference to my husband helping me and being a parent to my 4 kids). So when we looked back at my letter, I had put the wrong year for my surgery, which then was carried into the sentencing memo. Well, we couldn't then contact the probation officer and say I made a mistake in my letter and we certainly couldn't leave the sentencing memo as it was knowing it was wrong, nor could we correct it because then it would appear as though someone was lying (even though it was an innocent mistake). We found a way around it by not referring to dates at all in the sentencing memo, but the fact that I didn't proof the final letter of mine was a bad mistake, and the fact that I relied on my husband to remember those minute details with so much on his mind, was also a big mistake. So review everything. Details are important.

One other piece of advice I would give you. Don't make the letter about you. My husband and I would both agree that the worst character letter he received was actually from his mother. To this day, she actually thinks it is a great letter and we just laugh about it. It was all about her and how she must have been a terrible mother if he did this, etc. etc. Unfortunately, it appears everything is all about her I've noticed, but lucky me, I will get to deal with her while he is gone for the 14-16 months, as he is an only child. He hasn't yet explained to her that he only gets 300 calling minutes a month and that he is only calling her once/week and that she can't call him (not that she does anyway)!

If you would like me to review your letter, feel free. I am good at grammar and spelling nut, so even if not for content, I am more than willing to edit on that aspect of the letter. You should also ask the attorney for some sample letters. We had people ask us for some so we had our attorney send us some as well. That really helped for some people.

Sarancam416 11-05-2017 02:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rockchalk1 (Post 7676173)
Agree 100%. I think we only had one person that when we got theirs, had some factual information incorrect, so we just asked them to fix it. Otherwise we didn't interfere with what anyone said. My husband was just happy people were willing to write the letters and all of the letters were sent to the attorney before being forwarded to the probation officer or Judge, with the exception of one - a very disparaging one from his ex-wife. We were supposed to be notified if she had contacted the prosecutor or Judge beforehand, but unfortunately were not so at sentencing were shocked when the judge mentioned at the beginning of sentencing he had 1 additional character letter from xxx xxx. Ultimately, her letter had no bearing and the Judge did put her in her place. At the actual sentence part he said there were tons of letters on my husbands character and hard work, charitable traits, etc. that he had his entire life and one bad letter. He's going to take the bad letter for what its worth as clearly there's a history there. Were were dying (sarcasm) when we heard that because it had to be a slap in her face. Such a dumbass. Throughout the case she kept calling his lawyer asking him to get her money. From where I would like to know? Her mistake was she sent a letter to a judge thinking she would get sympathy about herself, not understanding that isn't how it works, not to mention she knew nothing about this judge. As our lawyer told us, the judge isn't stupid, he knows how marriages work, and he himself is on his second marriage. Point is, listen to your attorney, the letter matters, edit it as you see fit and know you did the right thing!

Also, as far as editing, definitely have an extra set of eyes. I had done mine early in the process when everyone else was writing theirs and left it in draft form in my email. Ultimately the case just kept getting delayed so I never went back to it. Months later when my husband needed it, I was so wrapped up with other stuff that I just printed it out had him review/edit it and sent it off. I didn't add anything, he was happy with it, and that was it. Well, when we were then later reviewing the sentencing memo from his attorney and it was referring to a back surgery I had and when, I said to my husband that I didn't have surgery that year and we have to correct it. Well it wasn't quoting my character letter, but it was clear the information came out of the letter (because it was in reference to my husband helping me and being a parent to my 4 kids). So when we looked back at my letter, I had put the wrong year for my surgery, which then was carried into the sentencing memo. Well, we couldn't then contact the probation officer and say I made a mistake in my letter and we certainly couldn't leave the sentencing memo as it was knowing it was wrong, nor could we correct it because then it would appear as though someone was lying (even though it was an innocent mistake). We found a way around it by not referring to dates at all in the sentencing memo, but the fact that I didn't proof the final letter of mine was a bad mistake, and the fact that I relied on my husband to remember those minute details with so much on his mind, was also a big mistake. So review everything. Details are important.

One other piece of advice I would give you. Don't make the letter about you. My husband and I would both agree that the worst character letter he received was actually from his mother. To this day, she actually thinks it is a great letter and we just laugh about it. It was all about her and how she must have been a terrible mother if he did this, etc. etc. Unfortunately, it appears everything is all about her I've noticed, but lucky me, I will get to deal with her while he is gone for the 14-16 months, as he is an only child. He hasn't yet explained to her that he only gets 300 calling minutes a month and that he is only calling her once/week and that she can't call him (not that she does anyway)!

If you would like me to review your letter, feel free. I am good at grammar and spelling nut, so even if not for content, I am more than willing to edit on that aspect of the letter. You should also ask the attorney for some sample letters. We had people ask us for some so we had our attorney send us some as well. That really helped for some people.

See thats some things i was wondering about, how much detail to go into about him. The attorney gave me a guideline and it says on the paper dont discuss the case or circumstances and dont make it about me. But like you saying about surgery and him parenting the kids, thats more or less what i was wondering should i give specific details about him and our children or him and me relating to his character. Mostly i have wrote about him and our children and my husband is very vocal, i am not. Lol its funny because when i met his lawyer the first thing she said was your husband really loves your and the kids...it just amazed me because he always finds some way to tell people that without directly saying i love my wife and kids, its just in the things he says about us. Im a very private person so i think thats what makes this a challenge for me because i know how many people have to read this so its like trying to get the world to see my husband through my eyes ya know. And mostly i wasnt sure if i should give specific details or examples of the things hes done that shows good character.

rockchalk1 11-05-2017 03:03 PM

Definitely give details what kind of husband and father he is. It makes a difference!

xolady 11-05-2017 04:54 PM

I've been reading answers from a bunch of people and I do respect all. My personal experience with such actually seemed to have a negative effect from the Judge. He was nasty didn't care what kind of circumstances and made rude comments as to why he had to listen to any such crap as he called it!! So my advice would be let other's besides you write any letters.

Sarancam416 11-05-2017 05:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xolady (Post 7676212)
I've been reading answers from a bunch of people and I do respect all. My personal experience with such actually seemed to have a negative effect from the Judge. He was nasty didn't care what kind of circumstances and made rude comments as to why he had to listen to any such crap as he called it!! So my advice would be let other's besides you write any letters.

She asked me to do it and ask if my brother could write one, hes a police officer. She really wanted one from my brother. But asked for both i guess for mine to go along with his to show him more of a person and to show him as a person who actually has a great relationship with a member of law enforcement.

xolady 11-05-2017 05:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sarancam416 (Post 7676214)
She asked me to do it and ask if my brother could write one, hes a police officer. She really wanted one from my brother. But asked for both i guess for mine to go along with his to show him more of a person and to show him as a person who actually has a great relationship with a member of law enforcement.

Just because the lawyer asked you doesn't mean it's a good thing. I would go want watch a few sentencing hearings and see what judges do or say, it might be a real eye opener, or not!

fbopnomore 11-05-2017 05:54 PM

The only judge that matters is the judge who will eventually receive the letters. It's probably not news that some of them are absolute AHs, and the sentence is determined from when that judge is assigned to your case.

Your lawyer should know, or can find out the sentencing policies of your judge, what may be helpful to your case, and more importantly what to absolutely avoid saying in the letter.

rockchalk1 11-05-2017 09:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xolady (Post 7676220)
Just because the lawyer asked you doesn't mean it's a good thing. I would go want watch a few sentencing hearings and see what judges do or say, it might be a real eye opener, or not!

If her lawyer asked her and told her what needs to be in the letter, than the attorney knows who is looking at it and if it's a good idea. That is what I mentioned above, listen to the attorney because they know what the judge or prosecutor is and generally know how they respond to that. Some judges don't want a lot of fluff, so do. Our lawyer knew exactly how to read the Judge and Prosecutor so there were no surprises for us and it was phenomenal. We later heard a former prosecutor that my friend knows refer to our attorney as the "master of sentencing". Listen to your lawyer and if she is telling you to write a letter, then there is a reason. A good lawyer has done their job and research and will know the judge/prosecutor and how they respond to them.

Sarancam416 11-10-2017 09:42 PM

Thanks everyone, finally after 4 drafts and 6 days, lol i finally just put it all together and dropped it of Wednesday afternoon, his lawyer was not in and ive called for her yesterday and today. She hasnt been in the office so im not sure if she read it yet. Then after all of that...my husband decided hes most likely going to take the deal they've already offered...lol all that stressing and writing this letter for nothing. Oh well, i made sure to save it if i ever need it again or if someone else would need an example. Thank you for all your help.


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