What Are Effective Writing Principles for Criminal Justice Professionals?

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Whether you are a police officer or a judge, you should communicate effectively using the written word. Be clear and concise as you write reports, letters, court documents or other elements so that readers understand your intent and the information you want to share. Observe four primary writing principles as you work in your criminal justice career.

1 Clarity and Accuracy

In the criminal justice world, it is essential to get things right. When a police officer submits reports, he reveals the facts in a manner that clearly explains what occurred. A full account of an incident is factual and coherent. An attorney presents motions that outline the facts in a court case. A probation officer may produce letters that describe accurate details of offender cases. Criminal justice professionals should write in a fashion that reflects the truth and exhibits an easily identifiable purpose.

2 Persuasion and Rhetoric

In many instances, persuasion is a necessary element for communications from criminal justice professionals. Attorneys require high levels of rhetoric and persuasiveness to influence juries or judges to see things their way. A probation or parole officer might write a complimentary letter to persuade an employer to hire a recently released felony offender. Sometimes law enforcement workers communicate with the public. During these times, the goal is to align the department's efforts with community concerns, using persuasive strategies.

3 Adherence to Style

The criminal justice system has a very detailed way of producing reports, court documents and other communications. To effectively communicate within the system, professionals have to adhere to the assigned style of the document or report they are working on. For example, attorneys must write and submit motions and court orders in a certain way for them to be accepted by a judge. Police officers write up reports of incidents using a format assigned by the department. The corrections industry produces reports and documents using forms and techniques required by the system. Adhering to these styles and formats is a requirement for criminal justice experts.

4 Research

Criminal justice professionals make recommendations and judgments based on law and research throughout their careers. Conducting the proper research to find previous court orders, statutes and other elements of the law is an essential component to much of the writing performed by criminal justice professionals. Many times, criminal justice workers have to apply case law to current instances or compare precedents to questions addressed to a court. Detectives use their knowledge, forensic discoveries and investigation to request search or arrest warrants. Criminal justice professionals must incorporate research and proper investigation to do their jobs.

Vicki Wright, writing and editing professionally since 1996, has extensive business management, marketing and media experience. Wright has a Bachelor of Science in socio-poltical communication from Missouri State University and became certified as a leadership facilitator from the Kansas Leadership Center in 2010.