In sentencing matters references from your employers and character references can be of great assistance when the Magistrate is considering what sentence to impose.
They are particularly important in drink driving, licencing and other traffic matters.
However for a reference to have maximum effect it needs to be
- in a particular format,
- addressed in a specific manner
- contain specific information (for example that the person writing the reference knows it will be used in Court and they know what you are charged with)
At Bennett Law we will assist you with the format and content for written references that will have maximum effect with the Court
Below is a general guide to written character references for Court usage.
Written Character References
When you appear in court for sentence the Magistrate will take into account the facts, your criminal record and your character in determining what sentence to impose.
Character references from people who know you are important resources in this process.
Character references need to be dated, signed and addressed to “the Presiding Magistrate” or “Your Honour”
The person writing the reference should indicate
- what their occupation is, and whether they have any involvement in community or charitable groups.
- How long and in what circumstances they have no new for example ”I have known Chris for 16 years as he is a good family friend.” If your referee is your manager/ employer they should make a comment as to what sort of worker you are and that they hold you in good regard.
- That they are aware of the offence that you are charged with and the facts that surround the charge. An example would be “I am aware that Chris has been charged with stealing and have discussed the circumstances with him.”
- If possible in their view the offence is “out of character” in terms of their experience in knowing you.
- If possible your referee should make a comment regarding your attitude to the offence. For example “I have spoken to Chris about the offence and he has expressed his remorse for his actions. He has communicated to me his shame in relation to the circumstances and he understands his behaviour is unacceptable.”
- If the matter is a traffic matter and there is likely to be a negative result in respect of your employment if you are disqualified (particularly if the referee is your employer or manager) they should make reference to what is likely to occur if you are disqualified. For example “An essential part of Chris’s employment requires him to drive a motor vehicle to and from job sites. A loss of his licence (may/will) involve him losing his job for any period of disqualification.” If you will lose your job as a result of a disqualification if possible your employer/manager should comment as to whether they would be prepared to re-employ you after the period of disqualification expires. For example “ I am prepared to re-employ Chris once any period of disqualification has ended.”
All references must be a true and accurate statement from your referee as they will be utilised in Court.