Good Character Reference Sample for Assault Offences

If you intend to plead guilty, or the court finds you guilty of an assault offence, an effective and powerful character reference letter for the Magistrate or Judge to read can significantly improve your sentence result in court.

Sample character reference letter for assault offences

Typed letterhead here i.e. TUV Pty Ltd

Date:

To: The Presiding Local Court Magistrate or District Court Judge

Name the specific court I.e. Penrith Local Court

Your Honour,

 

GENERAL TOPICS TO BE COVERED

  • Introduction:
    • As the referee, outline who you are. Briefly outline your age, name, occupation.
    • outline when and where you were introduced to the person you’re writing this letter about (the offender).
    • How long you’ve known him/her for and the frequency of your contact with him/her.
    • Mention if he/she told you about the assault offence and whether it came as a shock to you as being out of character.
  • Shame, Insight and Remorse:
    • Outline whether the offender has expressed to you his/her shame for committing the offence when disclosing it to you. For example, “when Bob told me, I could see he felt horrible and ashamed for his actions”.
    •  For insight, outline if you think the offender understands the seriousness of his/her assault offence, and whether he/she acknowledges the harm or potential harm caused to the victim(s).
    • For remorse, outline whether he/she has expressed acceptance of guilt and regret for his/her assault offence. For example, “Bob accepted full responsibility, he blamed no one other than himself for his actions and genuinely regrets doing it”.
  • Prospects of rehabilitation:
    • Outline what, to your knowledge, he/she has done by way of treatment or program to address a factor that contributed to the offence in order to convince the Judge or Magistrate that he/she will unlikely re-offend. You may outline whether you see any progress in him/her from doing this, or you may outline whether he/she has told you of the progress he/she gained from doing this. For example:
      • If he/she has been seeing a psychologist for mental health issues, or a drug & alcohol or anger management counsellor for treatment: “Bob tells me he has been seeing a psychologist/counsellor for… to deal with his personal health issues. He tells me that it’s been a great help and he intends to continue with treatment.”
      •  If he/she has completed a MERIT program course or other course to address drug or alcohol problems: “I am aware that Bob’s been attending [name of course] which has given him the helping hand he really needed to get on top of his personal health issues. I can see a great change in him, for example…”
  • Good Character:
    • Briefly outline your view of the offender’s character with an example or two to demonstrate this. For example, “I consider Bob as an otherwise very responsible person who puts other before himself with an honest, down to earth character who I can always rely on. An example of this is when…”
    • If he/she has informed you of the assault offence committed (recommended), then you may outline that he/she has told you of this, and you consider him/her to otherwise be a very good character despite committing the offence.
    • If he/she has no previous assault offences, you may outline whether you consider the current assault offence as out-of-character and why.
    • If he/she has committed an assault offence in the past, you may outline your knowledge of this.
    • If applicable, outline any charity work he/she has done or is currently doing to your knowledge.
    • If aware, briefly outline any personal commitments he/she has. This may be brief details of any family dependents who rely on the offender’s income and family responsibilitiesinvolving children or parents.
  •  Employment/Work:
    • If you are a referee writing this as his/her employer or colleague, you may briefly outline his/her:
      • Job title and brief description of role, include any relevant people he/she supervises or manages.
      • His/her reputation in the company/industry.
      • Period of time he/she has spent in this role/industry.
      • Any specific/unique and difficult to acquire skills he/she has making it difficult or almost impossible to replace in the company.
      • Extent of financial revenue he/she generates the business every month/year.
      • Your observations of the amount of hard work he/she has put into the company to reach this position. Include the extent of contribution he/she has made to the success of the company.
      • Outline details as to whether a criminal conviction for an assault offence will or will likely result in his/her dismissal from the job and why:
        • For security jobs: you may also outline details of any requirements of maintaining a security licence and any criminal background checks required to maintain the job. Explain what effect a conviction will have on being able to obtain or maintain a security licence or pass a background check. It’s recommended to back this up with evidence from the governing professional body that issues the requisite security licences i.e. look into its policy requirements.
        • For jobs requiring international travel: briefly outline this, how often and destinations he/she is required to travel to over a year.
        • For jobs that undergo government security or other high security clearance requirements: briefly outline details of this and what if any impact an assault conviction will have on this.
  • It is recommended to state, that if required to attend, you will be prepared to come to court to give evidence about the contents of this letter. You should also state your postal address. Generally, a referee of a character reference letter will not be required to attend court for this.

FAQ

Basic Rules About Character Reference Letters

  • Keep each letter to 1 page and no more. Ensure you include only relevant points outlined above.
  • Use a typed, signed and dated letter.
  • Generally, you should hand the Judge or Magistrate with the original letter(s), not copies.
  • Review each letter beforehand. Check for spelling, grammar, and ensure it is accurate and true. It’s important that the letter makes sense.
  •  Always refer to the Judge or Magistrate as “Your Honour”.
  • If the referee is from an organisation or business, try to use a company letterhead if applicable and possible.
  • Use your own original wording in the letter.
  • Avoid duplicating the same points across more than one character reference letter where you use more than one.

Who can write a character reference letter?

Generally, a character reference letter for court in assault offences can be written by a family member, friend, partner, charity organisation, employer, colleague from work or religious organisation.

The chosen referee(s) should be carefully picked to ensure that he/she is capable of saying the point(s) you need to put across for the Magistrate or Judge to properly take into consideration for a better outcome. This will depend on the type of assault offence, and specific personal circumstances of the offender.

If you wish to make a point that an assault conviction will have an impact on your security licence, security clearance, or other professional licence to work in a particular field of job, it is worthwhile trying to get a character reference letter from your employer or someone in the organisation capable of outlining this.

If you wish to make the point that a loss of your job and income will directly affect any family dependents who rely on your income, then its recommended to obtain a character reference letter from that family dependent to outline details of this.

How many character reference letters can I use in court?

As a general rule, try to stick to using between 2-4 character reference letters with each having its separate relevant points for the Magistrate or Judge to take into account for a better sentencing result.

A Judge or Magistrate in court will have a limited period of time to spend on your sentence on the day. This is because they are required to get through a very busy list of cases in a day.

Every case will depend on its own specific situation. For more complex sentences, you may need more than 4 reference letters for court. This may be due to there being lots of relevant points you need to put across for the Judge or

Magistrate to consider in your favour. It’s recommended to get the guidance of an experience assault lawyer in this process to ensure that it is done properly.

Is the character reference provider required to attend court?

Where the sentence is being heard in the Local Court, the referee who wrote the letter is generally not required to attend court for the assault offence case.

Where the sentence is being heard in the District or Supreme Court, the referee will be required to attend court if the prosecution have any objections to the contents of the letter. Where there is no objections to it, the referee will not normally be required to attend court to give evidence in the witness box.

Another more powerful way to get the Judge or Magistrate to consider a relevant point for a better sentencing result is by using an affidavit to reflect what is said in the character reference letter.

An affidavit is sworn evidence without the person who wrote it (referee) being required to attend court to give that evidence in the witness box. An affidavit carries with it more weight by a Judge or Magistrate in the offender’s favour than a good character reference letter. However, the referee may be required to attend court if the prosecution have any objections to the contents of the affidavit.

What to avoid saying in a character reference letter

  • Do not sound over-confident or arrogant.
  • Avoid telling the Magistrate or Judge what to do. For example, do not say things like, “Bob deserves and should get a section 10 dismissal with no conviction for his assault offence.” or “Bob doesn’t deserve to go to jail for his assault offence because…”
  • Avoid providing any excuses for the offender. Also avoid blaming others for the offence. All this will likely come across as showing a lack of any remorse and insight into the assault offence which can lead to a worse outcome.
  • Avoid copying other people’s wordings. Keep the content original.

How to start your sentence

  • “I am aware of Bob’s assault offence and am very disappointed. I can see that Bob was ashamed and regrets his behaviour…”
  • “Bob has discussed his offence with me and I believe that he accepts full responsibility for his actions. He has explained his understanding as to the seriousness of it and the harm/potential harm caused to the victim(s)…”
  • “I have known Bob for 20-years now. Over this time, he has always shown respect and honesty with a sense of responsibility placing others before himself many times… his offence is completely out of character and has shocked me…”

 

Please ensure that each letter used is true and accurate in its contents. This is because a Magistrate or Judge
will be reading it. It’s recommended to get an experienced assault lawyer to review each character reference
letter for guidance and feedback.

Our team of assault lawyers have over two decades of experience specialising in assault cases. For over two decades, our lawyers have achieved outstanding results across all serious assault offences, including:

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