Writing a support letter

This page is a guide to writing a letter for the court to support people with disability participating in criminal proceedings.

The information on this page is for:

  1. Support workers
  2. Family member, carers or others supporting people with disability

The letter you write will help the court take the person's support needs into account. This might change the sentence that the person with disability serves. It could be the difference between a custodial sentence and staying in the community. 

What to do

Courts are very busy and magistrates and judges do not have a lot of time. For this reason, it is important that letters to the court are concise and to the point.

Step 1. Address the letter to the court

Things the letter must communicate:

  1. Who you are (your name, job title, organisation, and contact details)

    If you are a support worker and your client has an upcoming court date for a sentencing hearing or bail application, or intends to plead guilty to a criminal charge, your work with the client will be relevant to the court.

  2. Your relationship to the person with disability
  3. How long you have worked with them
  4. Your knowledge of why they are before the court
  5. Any hardship that you are aware of that has contributed to the person with disability being before the court
  6. The support that you offer the person with disability
  7. Your signature (even if electronic)

    If you are a support worker provide the letter on your organisation's letterhead (where possible)


  • making excuses for the person's conduct
  • blaming other services (especially the police) for the person's conduct
  • providing information that is not relevant to the court.

For more information on what to include in a supporting letter, speak with the client's lawyer or refer to VLA's guide to writing a character reference.

Step 2. Give the letter to the person's lawyer

Be mindful that the lawyer may choose not to use the letter. If it is provided to the court, it will be shown to the prosecution and may be discussed in open court.

You may also be asked to attend court to explain the contents of your letter to the magistrate or judge. 


Supporting Justice

Supporting Justice © Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University, 2019

Questions or feedback: contact@supportingjustice.net

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