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Home > Blog > Criminal Defense > How Character Witnesses Can Help
Mar 28, 2016

How Character Witnesses Can Help

If you get arrested and charged with a crime and you hire a criminal defense attorney, the focus of your defense will quickly become preparing for the trial. Even if there is a desire and an intention to avoid the trial, preparing for it shows the prosecutor that you mean business and are going to fight the charges all the way. It also focuses the attention of your defense on collecting all of the evidence necessary to get an acquittal in court.

One of the pieces of evidence that can be used in court to defend against a criminal charge is a character witness. While rarely, if ever, the difference maker between an outright acquittal and a guilty verdict, character witnesses can nevertheless tilt things in your favor. During the trial, they can make a jury more sympathetic towards you, or can make the prosecutor more willing to cut you some slack during pre-trial negotiations. For these reasons, character witnesses are often a piece of a criminal defense.

What Are Character Witnesses?

Character witnesses are people who can attest to your claims that you’re a good person, and either would never do such a thing as what you’re being charged for, or that you made a mistake, would never do it again, and should be let off lightly. They frequently come from non-family members who have known you for a long time, or have dealt with you closely in a professional setting. Good friends or bosses often make for solid character witnesses.

Unlike regular witnesses, character witnesses were not there during the scene of the crime, and cannot say one way or the other whether you are innocent or not. Instead, they take the stand or issue a sworn statement saying that they know who you are, as a person, and that the punishment the prosecutor is seeking is undeserved.

Character Witnesses Become More Important for Serious Charges

When the criminal charge you’re facing is relatively light – like for operating under the influence (OUI) or a minor drug possession charge – then character witnesses are useful, but the difference they make is often marginal. However, character witnesses become more important when the charge is serious, and comes with serious repercussions. Then, character witnesses can make a significant impact on the outcome, because there is more room for plea bargaining or for a lesser sentence if the trial ends with a conviction.

Attorney William T. Bly Can Help

Having a quality criminal defense attorney like William T. Bly on your side during a criminal investigation and trial can have a huge impact on the outcome. His experience defending clients and his knowledge of the criminal justice system includes an extensive understanding of how best to use character witnesses to their maximum effect both before and during trial. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146 or contact him online.

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