If you intend on pleading guilty, or you’re found guilty for an assault offence, an effective apology letter
can help convince a Magistrate or Judge to give a more lenient sentence.
Sample apology letter if charged with an assault offence
Typed letterhead here i.e. EFG Pty Ltd
To: The Presiding Local Court Magistrate or District Court Judge
Name the specific court I.e. Gosford Local Court
GENERAL TOPICS TO BE COVERED
- You may express remorse and your insight regarding the assault offence. For example, “I accept
responsibility for my conduct, and I understand that it is a serious crime. I regret doing it and I
understand the harm and potential harm it caused. I acknowledge that no one has the right to
harm another person.”
- Note your age.
- You may outline the shame experienced after having reflected on your behaviour, including the shame experienced from disclosing it to those close to you.
- Express the fact that you will never repeat this kind of behaviour again.
- Outline your employment situation, including:
- Your role and period of time in this role;
- Briefly outline the consequences of an assault conviction on your job and explain why.
- Any requirements to undergo and pass criminal background checks and security clearances or security licences for work. Outline details of what effect a conviction will have on this. It’s recommended to back this up with evidence from the body that governs the issuing of the licence/clearance. Any detrimental consequences on your employer if you were no longer working there. This can include any financial loss to your employer.
- Outline if your employment has a strict requirement that your role be fulfilled by someone with no criminal conviction as a policy.
- If your job requires you to travel overseas, outline this with a brief outline of how often and destinations in a year.
- Outline your personal commitments and circumstances, including:
- Your current family situation, and whether you have family, partner or friends who rely on your income. You may also outline any health problems concerning you or close family that affects you.
- Outline any significant expenses that you solely make or contribute to making.
- Outline the impact or likely impact a criminal conviction will have on:
- Your capability of getting a job in your chosen field; or
- To be accepted in a course; or
- To get a registration in a professional body to practice in that area.
- Express any contributions you’ve made to the community, including charity.
- Briefly outline any mental health problems you have or physical health issues.
- Briefly outline the rehabilitative steps you have taken since committing the assault offence, including:
- Re-assurance that you will not re-offend. You can demonstrate this by commencing or completing treatment or programs specifically addressing the factors that contributed to you committing the offence, such as anger management counselling, mental illness treatment from a psychologist, drug or alcohol addiction counselling or MERIT program.
- Express how often and how many treatment sessions you have attended to date.
- Express any progress you have made since commencing the treatment.
- Outline whether this is the first time you have sought treatment.
- Express whether you intend to continue with this treatment.
Print your name here
Basic rules about apology letters
Keep the length of your apology letter to no more than 1 page. This should be enough length to briefly outline the relevant points for a Judge or Magistrate to read. Remember to keep in mind that a Judge or Magistrate is required to get through a high volume of cases in a day.
- It is recommended to have your apology letter typed, signed and dated.
- The original apology letter should be handed to the Judge or Magistrate, not a photocopy.
- Ensure that your apology letter makes sense without grammatical or spelling errors. It is recommended to have an experienced criminal lawyer (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/about-us/lawyers/) to review it for you before handing it to the
- Use your own words when drafting your apology letter. Judges and Magistrates will likely be able to tell the difference.
- Refer to the Judge or Magistrate as “Your Honour”.
What to avoid saying in an apology letter
Always avoid telling the Judge or Magistrate what to do or how to deal with your case. For example, avoid saying things like, “you should give me a section 10 non-conviction or Conditional Release Order without conviction (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/the-end-of-section-10-bonds-in-nsw-as-a-sentencing-option/) for this because….”.
- Giving excuses for your offending behavior will more likely result in a harsher sentence. But giving an explanation won’t. Avoid even coming across as providing an excuse.
- Avoid blaming anyone else for your offending behavior. By blaming people other than yourself the Judge or Magistrate will likely take it as you lacking insight and remorse, which will likely result in a heavier sentence.
- Avoid copying other people’s apology letters. A Judge or Magistrate who has read thousands will likely know. Always be original in your letter and remember that this is an opportunity for the Judge or Magistrate to get to know a little about you.
How to start your sentence
- I wish to express my regret and shame in…
- I blame no one other than myself in what I…
- I have reflected on my behaviour and acknowledge the seriousness of the offence…
- I realise that my conduct has harmed/had the potential to harm…
- I’ve disclosed my offending behaviour to…
- I will ensure this is never repeated…
- I have participated in counselling which has provided insight about…
Our experienced criminal lawyers have a proven track record of achieving exceptional results for over 25-years in serious assault cases, including:
- Achieving section 10 dismissals (non-convictions) (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/criminal-law/section-10-dismissal/) and Conditional Release Orders without conviction.
- Avoiding imprisonment sentences for serious assault offences.
- Getting assault charges withdrawn early or downgraded to a less serious charge.