Friend pleads guilty to 4 counts of drunk driving causing death: do you write a reference letter?

Yes write a letter and be truthful about what you know about him.

The court takes all facts into consideration, so just be truthful. It is for the court to weigh the good/bad information and make a final decision, not for you to do (by deciding to not write a positive letter, etc.).

Who mentioned asking for leniency? The OP asks about writing a letter of reference.

I think that is a pretty good point of view. Lay out all the facts as you know them. Good AND bad.

Lets face it. A guy that got drunk off his ass once and killed a bunch of people IS different than a guy that is constantly drunk and driving and just doesn’t give a shit. Not saying the first guy should get a slap on the wrist…but when it comes to society and risk having him spend life in prison is a waste and probably harms society more than it helps it…the second guy not so much…

Devil’s advocate position: do you ever encounter any sense in our society that wealthy people can get away with things that would land poor people in prison? Once in a long while I encounter this idea.

Do you think that this sense of disparity is beneficial to society?

I don’t.

Do you think that a strong statement to the contrary would be beneficial to society?

I do.

So here we are: a rich dude gets drunk and kills a bunch of kids. His family hires a high-priced attorney to try to get him free, and part of that strategy is essentially a demonstration of what a strong social network this rich family has (because what else would these letters of recommendation show?).

The judge could reduce his sentence based on how well-connected the rich guy is. Or the judge can sentence him exactly as the law requires, on the harsh end of what the law requires.

One sentence reinforces the idea that rich folks can get away with things. The other sentence does not.

And your question is, do I want to try to persuade the judge to give the first sentence?


Don’t get me wrong.

Hell no I don’t think someone should get a light sentence just because they are rich. Did I say that? Did I even imply that?

For THAT matter, this rich guy drove when drunk when him calling a cab would have meant nothing to his wallet. Some poor assed dude that got drunk and drove at least has the “excuse” that he really couldn’t afford a cab.

So ALL other things equal. If the rich guy that got drunk once and drove and killed a bunch of people would get a harsher sentence from me than a poor assed dude that did the same thing. And both of those would get lesser sentences than a guy that drove drunk as regular operating procedure and didn’t give a shit.

And as I pointed out, agreeing with another poster in my post. It is NOT about persuading the judge to be lenient. It is laying out the facts as you know them about the guy…and the judge/jury making the call.

Just by way of background, in the actual case there is an agreed statement of facts, as outlined in my OP. No trial.

However, there’s no plea bargain.

Accused is asking for eight years.

Crown is asking for ten to twelve years, followed by a decade long driving suspension.

Sentencing decisions are hard. 8 years is a long time in custody. Think of all you hope to accomplish over the next 8 years. What additional purpose would be served by years nine and ten that we not accomplished in the fisrt eight? Deterrence? I doubt you’d get different behavior from the next potentiometer drink driver, (“I’m willing to risk 8 years in prison to drive home from this bar, but if I was looking at ten years I’d call a cab.”).

Justice? No amount of prison evens the scales.

I’d write the letter. The world is not black and white. Good people do bad things, bad people do good things. The judge should get the whole picture and do the best he or she can.

Hm. Not where I thought you were going with this.

I was expecting you to say that since your friends aren’t rich, you’d consider writing them a letter, to maybe level the playing field a bit and give them a little bit of the advantage the wealthy kid has.

I’d need to know more about the accident.

I don’t understand the driving suspension. For ten years? If he’s in prison for twelve years, how is that a hardship exactly?

Followed by a decade long driving suspension. He gets out after twelve years and can’t drive for the next ten years after that.

If anything, his being rich makes it worse, whether he’s spoiled, or down-to-earth, because a rich guy could have found another way home from the airport. A rich guy can afford to take a cab home, even if it’s a $75 fare, the sort of thing that might make a less wealthy person choose to drive home even though he knows he’s impaired (not that it justifies it; it just means the poorer guy is between a rock and a hard place, and maybe has to sit at the airport Starbucks for five hours until he’s sober enough not to kill anyone).

I’m usually all about second chances, but this is beyond the pale-- also, this was under the guy’s control. He wasn’t responding to some compulsion, or desperation. He had all sorts of places where he could have made a different choice: he could have drunk less on the plane; he could have taken a cab home; he could have called one of those 92 people for a ride; he could have checked into a hotel near the airport (there are always hotels in shuttle distance, and rich guys can afford to go to an hotel to crash until they are sober enough to drive).

I’ll write to him in prison, and I’ll give him rides when he’s out and his license is suspended, but he should do every bit of time the law allows. This is the kind of thing that needs to stand as an example, in addition to the fact that this guy himself really just needs to have it driven home that there are event horizons you can cross, from which nothing can bring you back.

I’m not even interested in the number or ages of his victims. I’d feel the same way if he’d hit a lone shmuck.

This completely baffles me. If you commit a driving offence serious enough for a significant prison sentence, then you should never drive again.

Or, one could say “if you have served your 10 years in prison, didn’t drive for another 10 years, then you have as much right to drive as anyone else.” Driving drunk is a terrible thing to do, but a lifetime of punitive consequences without any benefit serves no one.

If he choice in sentencing for a dangerous drivers was

10 years

I’ve known at least 8 people who have lost their driver’s licenses for various reasons for various lengths of time. The one thing they all have in common is that they all continued to drive, albeit with extreme care.

He was driving drunk? Then fuck him. Regardless of kin or friendship.

I don’t befriend many - and I never befriend anyone from whom I’d expect this behavior.

So I cannot imagine myself as a “friend” of this accused.
Maybe others have a loose definition of “friend”.

But: however we got to this point, I’d still testify as to the type of person I DID befriend.

Agreed. I would write a truthful letter to the Judge and allow him to take my views into account along with all of the other evidence he has in order to render a just sentence.

DUI causing death is a very difficult sentencing decision. On one hand there is a person who is dead and that calls for a strong sentence to deter the behavior and for simple justice. On the other hand, DUIs are unfortunately common and thousands of people commit the very same act this guy did, but were fortunate enough not to kill someone.

IOW, they presented just as much danger to society, and even if caught, got a relatively minor sentence. Do we string this guy up just because he was unlucky?

That is why judges are paid their salary. They must balance the interests and be fair. My letter would be one piece of solving that puzzle. How much of a piece, whether the Judge ponders on it in front of the fireplace while drinking a scotch, or wads it up and scores two points in his office wastebasket, again, is up to him as the people entrust him with that decision.

For everyone who’s saying they’d just write an honest and frank letter, you do know that it’s never going to get submitted if it’s anything less than an glowing endorsement, right?