If your sibling decides to plead guilty or has been found guilty of committing a crime, a character reference letter will be extremely important to the case. Write the character letter directly to the judge overseeing your sibling’s case. The point is to persuade the judge that your sibling realizes the extent of the crime, is truly sorry and is otherwise an honest, productive citizen who deserves a second chance.

Add “Your Honor” or “To the Honorable Judge” to the salutation, rather than the standard sir or madam.

Talk about your sibling’s character. Never state that your sibling is innocent or deserves a lesser sentence. At this point, the judge will be looking to see that your sibling understands the wrongdoing and will not commit the same offense again.

Add personal details to the reference letter. A story or anecdote that demonstrates that your sibling is a good citizen is an excellent addition to a reference letter to a judge.

Include what you have personally observed in regards to your sibling’s remorse. Since being accused and going through court, your sibling has likely suffered stress, anxiety and regret. Give details of these emotions from your point of view.

Thank the judge for his time and sign your name at the end of the letter. Be sure to type it as well.