Police Pursuit – s 51B Crimes Act
Faced with a police pursuit offence (Sky’s law) is daunting, especially at the thought of getting a criminal record, loosing your licence, effecting your job and travel plans. Our senior traffic lawyers are leaders (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/about-us/lawyers/), specialising in traffic cases. With over 20 years experience, they hold a proven success record in proving their clients innocence, getting charges dropped early, and even achieving s10 non convictions to allow their clients to continue driving and remain conviction free. Our Director is the only traffic lawyer in NSW who has achieved a s10.
Your Options in Court
PLEADING NOT GUILTY
You can only be guilty of police pursuit if police can prove each of the following 4 elements beyond a reasonable doubt in court:
- You drove a vehicle; and
- You either knew, should have known, or had reasonable grounds to suspect you are required to stop due to police being in pursuit of you; and
- You didn’t stop the vehicle; and
- You then drove recklessly or at a speed or manner dangerous to others.
You will be not guilty, and your charge dismissed if police are unable to prove any one of the above 4 elements.
Defences to this charge
You are Not Guilty if:
- You didn’t know police were in pursuit of you. You will be not guilty if in the circumstances, it was not reasonable for you to have known you were in pursuit, or there was no reasonable basis to suspect you were in pursuit. i.e. The police vehicle was such a distance behind you that you didn’t know of the pursuit, but you stopped when you became aware when it got closer to you.
- It is unclear when the police commenced the pursuit.
- Mistaken identity of person driving the vehicle.
- The manner of your driving did not cause a real or potential danger to others, nor were you speeding or driving in a way realising the possibility of causing danger to others on the road in in the vicinity of it.
- Honest and reasonable mistake: Where you honestly didn’t believe you were in pursuit by police at the time, in circumstances it was reasonable for you to have held that belief at the time.
- Duress or Necessity: Where you did this from coercion or threat, or to avoid serious harm.
Your charge will be dismissed if any one of the above defences to police pursuit apply to you. Our highly experienced traffic lawyers specialise in getting charges dropped early, and hold a proven success record of achieving this countless times for over 20 years. Speak to our team now to find out your best defence, and how to strengthen it early.
If you decide to plead guilty to an offence of police pursuit, see the below points on how to best prepare your case to maximise your chances at avoiding a criminal record and loss of licence.
25% Discount on punishment
Entering a plea of guilty at the earliest time in your case will result in a 25% discount off your punishment by the Judge. This result in a more lenient, better court result.
The later this is done, the less that discount gets. This is why its important to get experienced advice early.
Traffic Offenders Program
Completing the traffic offenders program (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/traffic-law/traffic-offenders-program/) can significantly improve your court result, potentially giving a much more lenient punishment by the Judge. Our senior lawyer Mr. J Singh lectures in various programs, and can guide you to enrol into the best suited program recognised by the Courts.
Good character references
Your result can be further improved with a more lenient outcome by getting letters from your employer, family, friends, charity and apology letter from you for the Judge to read about the effects of a loss of licence, and conviction, on your family and work.
Those letters should express your good character (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/traffic-law/good-character-reference-guide/driving-offences/), your need for a licence, effect of getting a conviction and loss of licence on work and family, your remorse, insight and shame. Our lawyers can guide you in this process.
Negotiate to drop charges
Your police pursuit charge can potentially be dropped early if there are enough holes in the evidence, which you can use as leverage to tactfully convince police to drop the charge. Our senior traffic lawyers specialise in just that, with over 20 years experience in successfully achieving this end countless times. Our senior lawyers can carefully analyse the police evidence early to point out any of those holes in your case.
The police set of facts is initially drafted by police, can often be one sided, painting a worse picture than it should about you for the Judge to read. This often then results in a heavier punishment. It is meant to reflect your offending conduct, including how long the pursuit went for, when you were made aware of it, your manner of driving etc.
Our lawyers have often put a stop to a bad set of facts. This can occur by thoroughly negotiating with police to change those facts to something more favourable to you, likely to result in a much more lighter outcome. This can occur by pointing out all the holes in the evidence to police.
A court report from a well respected leading psychologist or psychiatrist for the Judge to read about you in your police pursuit offence can dramatically improve your court result, with a lighter outcome.
For the best chances at this, the report should express your mental state, remorse, shame and insight. It should also express your explanation and circumstances leading up to the offence. Our senior traffic lawyers can guide you to the best suited expert for this job.
It’s important to know that the maximum penalties do not always apply to the usual case. In fact, they are generally reserved to the most serious offenders of this offence.
In the event you don’t receive a s10 non conviction, the below table summarises the penalties you will be exposed to.
Licence Disqualification periods if convicted
|Licence Disqualification period|
|If you have no previous major offence or drink driving convictions in last 5 years||Automatic: 3 years
Minimum: 1 year
|If you have a previous major offence or drink driving conviction in last 5 years||Automatic: 5 years
Minimum: 2 years
Maximum imprisonment if convicted
|If you have no major offence or drink driving conviction in last 5 years||3 years|
|If you have a major offence or drink driving conviction in last 5 years||5 years|
Types of penalties
The below are the kinds of punishment the Judge can give you for an offence of police pursuit. You will receive any one of these, depending on your preparation and way your case is presented in court:
- Section 10 Dismissal (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/section-10-dismissal/)
- Conditional Release Order (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/conditional-release-order/)
- Fine (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/fine/)
- Community Correction Order (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/community-correction-order/)
- Intensive Correction Order (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/intensive-correction-order/)
- Full Time Imprisonment (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/penalties/nsw/full-time-imprisonment/)
For best chances at avoiding prison, avoiding a criminal record (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/section-10-dismissal/), and at keeping your licence, even after pleading guilty to police pursuit, speak to one of our specialist traffic lawyers on how to best maximise your chances at success. Our leading team of senior lawyers hold over 20 years of experience in successfully achieving outstanding results, with realistic and practical advice and guidance at every step.