Hi, I am preparing for a possible trial. A key questionis whether I received a particular letter from the dmv --sent standard mail. We are looking for good character witnesses. What are good qualities to look for in a character witness? Is it best to pullthem from work experience or outside work? I wouldassume family would be considered to close? Iffrom work is it best to have a coworker or a manager? Gary
nothing so far
Thanks for your question.
First, I have a couple of comments regarding your intention to introduce character evidence at your trial on a DMV matter.
In a criminal/traffic case, the defendant (you) can offer character evidence only when it is directed to a trait that is relevant to the crime. For instance, in a theft case, the defendant might present character evidence that he/she has a reputation for honesty, which would not be consistent with the accusation that defendant committed a theft offense. This type of character trait would be relevant to the charge. The introduction of evidence which indicates that in general, the defendant has a good character, is not allowed.
You mention that a key question in your case is whether or not you received a letter from the DMV. If you are proposing to present a witness who will testify something to this effect, for example, "If the mailman delivered a letter from the DMV to Defendant, he certainly would have taken it out of his mailbox, opened it up, and read it," this most likely wouldn't be permitted.
Also, with respect to whether or not you received a letter that was sent by regular mail, all the procedural rules with which I'm familiar say that if a letter is sent to someone by regular mail, they are presumed to have received it unless the post office returns it to the sender for such reasons as "no longer at this address," or "forwarding order expired," and so forth. So, most likely, unless the letter was returned to the DMV, you will most likely be presumed to have received it.
At any rate, regarding the selection of a character witness, you should keep the following guidelines in mind:
1) The witness should not have a criminal record
2) You should have known the witness for several years
3) The witness should be part of your social circle and know others who know you
4) The witness should be someone you believe is willing to assist you, is willing to testify in court, will come to court on time, and will present himself well in court
5) The witness should be someone you have told about your case
6) The witness should be someone who can attest to your reputation for honesty, truthfulness, and integrity
7) The witness should be someone who can attest to your reputation (or lack thereof) for criminal behavior
8) The witness should be willing to meet with your attorney.
A family member would be considered to be biased in your favor. With respect to coworkers, managers, etc., it would depend on which one(s) fit the aforemenioned factors the best.
I don't think this is the answer you were hoping to hear, but I am obligated to give you an honest and straightforward response. I hope you find it informative. Good luck.
There is a big difference between simply telling your potential witness what your case is all about, and rehearsing the testimony of the witness. Talking about the case is fine, but putting words in the mouth of the witness, or telling him/her what to say in court, on the other hand, is not okay.
A good attorney - or in your situation, you, since you're pro se - will contact a witness before trial to discuss the case. You certainly don't want to have any surprises when your witness testifies in court.
I hope this addresses your concerns. Good luck!
Licensed attorney for 23 years. Former mayors court magistrate and traffic prosecutor.
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