Typed Letterhead Here (if Possible)
To: The Presiding Magistrate of the Local Court
GENERAL TOPICS TO BE COVERED
- That you’re aware of the assault offence(s), and you’re aware the offender is guilty. There’s no point in saying that the offender is innocent.
- Period of time you have known the offender for, and how you got to know the offender.
- Your views on the offender as a person. This includes, anything specific about him/her.
- Avoid suggesting or telling what the Magistrate or Judge should do in terms of which penalty to impose.
- Express whether, in your opinion, the offender will re-offend or commit a further assault offence ever again. Briefly explain why you hold this view.
- Whether the offender has expressed remorse and insight for the assault offence(s).
- If this letter is coming from the offender’s employer, then the writer on behalf of the employer should comment on the following:
- What the writer’s title and position is in the company & period of time in role.
- The offender’s role/position, and period of time the offender’s worked here for;
- The employer’s attitude towards criminal convictions of its employees, and whether a criminal conviction will result in dismissal. If possible, explain why.
- Financial or other impact on the employer if the offender is convicted/dismissed.
- Any background check requirements/working with children checks, and/or high security clearances required as part of the job. i.e. security guards, and other roles require certain types of clearances. A security guard licence is governed by the Security Industry Act and Regulations.
- If this letter is coming from the offender’s partner or family, then the partner or family member should comment on the following:
- Any shared custody arrangements of children; responsibilities to care for any dependants such as children, or other family members.
- Whether the offender is the sole income provider in the family.
- Financial commitments- extent of mortgage or loan repayments.
- Back this up with a copy of a recent bank statement showing income and expenses (in both you and your partner’s name).
- If there are alcohol, drug or anger management issues, then state whether the offender’s attitude to violence has changed, and whether he/she is committed to getting counselling to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
- A statement that the writer is prepared to appear in court to give evidence if required.
- The writer’s postal address should be included.
Print name of writer
Basic Rules About Character Reference Letters for Assault Charges
- Every letter must be signed and dated before handing it to the court to read. Typed letters are preferred.
- If the letter is from the offender’s employer: The letter should be on the letterhead.
- Each letter should be reviewed by an experience assault lawyer before handing it to the court.
- The offender should bring to court, the original signed and dated letters. A signed and dated copy of each letter should be provided to your lawyer before the day in court.
- The letters should be addressed to “Your Honour”.
- The wording used by the writer should be in the writer’s own words and style of writing. It does not have to be formal.
- Each letter should not be more than 1 page. Courts get busy where Magistrates read lots of documents in a day. You will likely get a better outcome if you keep it short and to the point.
- Conduct a spell check before finalising letters.
What Your ‘Referee’ Should Say About Him/Herself
- As the writer, you can express your job title & period you have done this for.
- Positive contributions to the community i.e. charity. Avoid sounding arrogant or overconfident here.
- These points should be short and concise over 1 to 2 sentences.
What the ‘Referee’ Should Say About the Offender
- How you got to know the offender, and how long you have known each other for.
- How regular your contact is with the offender, and how often you see him/her.
- Whether or not the offender is hard working, passionate, responsible, caring. Explain why you believe these views of him/her.
- Whether you have concerns of the offender maintaining his/her job if convicted due to the flow on effect on the offender’s dependants who rely on the offender’s income.
- If this is the first assault offence committed by the offender, then you can express that this offence is out of character, and he/she is unlikely to do it again.
- If the offender has committing a previous criminal offence (especially an assault offence), then there will be no point in saying that this was out of character.
What the ‘Referee’ Should Say About the Offence, Offender’s Attitude to the Offence and Insight
- If there are issues of anger management, mental illness, drug and alcohol problems, then the writer here can express whether the offender has insight into these issues and appears committed to addressing them by some sort of community treatment i.e. psychologist or counselling services.
- Do not give an opinion of whether the offender is suffering a mental illness.
- Whether the offender has expressed genuine insight and remorse for the assault offence(s). Explain why you hold this view of the offender.
- Whether the offender has expressed understanding/recognition of the harm caused to the victim(s).
- Whether the offender understands that the assault offence is serious.
- Whether the offender is taking the offence very seriously, feels shame from his behaviour and embarrassed having gone through the police process and appearance in court.
This character reference sample for assault offences is a guide only.
Everything said in the letters must be accurate and truthful. A Magistrate or Judge will be reading it.
It’s a good idea to have an experience criminal lawyer specialising in assault cases reviews each letter before it is handed to the court.
Every letter should be drafted in the writer’s own words and style of writing.
Tip: If a criminal conviction (especially an assault charge) will affect your job resulting in a dismissal, then you should always show evidence of this. Sometimes this can be found in your employment contract. Otherwise, try getting a letter from your employer to confirm these points.