What is a character reference?
A character reference is a letter to the court from a respectable member of society, who knows you and is willing to provide the court with evidence of your good character.
Why are character references important?
Character references are important because they show the court that other people view you as a good member of society. These references give an insight to a magistrate or judge that your good qualities outlined in your testimonial outweigh the negative perceptions created through your criminal act.
If the magistrate or judge takes the references into account in relation to your good character, they may potentially order a more lenient penalty for you.
Creating quality character references
Who makes a good character referee?
A person who has known you for an extended period of time and has reputable standing in the community makes for a good character referee. For example:
As a general rule, close family members will not be objective enough to provide a character evidence that will carry significant weight and should be avoided unless there are no other options.
Who does not make a good character referee?
When do you need a character reference?
If you plead or are found guilty of an offence, you will benefit from having one or more character references at your sentencing hearing. The references will be considered by the magistrate or judge when determining the appropriate sentence. It is important to give your character references to your solicitor as soon as possible so they can examine the reference and referee before your sentencing hearing.
When should you submit your character references?
You should give your solicitor your character references well before your sentencing hearing so they can be examined adequately. Your solicitor may:
If you do not have a solicitor representing you in your criminal matter, the testimonials should be ready to give to a magistrate or judge before your sentence is decided on. N/B- when submitting your character references, you should:
We can help
We can advise you on sentencing outcomes and assist in the preparation of your character references. We can appear for you in all manner of criminal law matters.
With our extensive experience in criminal matters, Bainbridge Legal can help you with your character references in order to give you the best outcome possible.
Important tips when writing a character reference
Formatting your character reference
Your referee should address the character reference "To the Presiding Magistrate" if the court is a Local Court, or "The Presiding Judge" if the court is a District or Supreme Court. Your referee should not address the reference by using a generic addressee such as 'to whom it may concern' as the magistrate or judge may suspect that the referee is ignorant as to the purpose of the reference. The referee should properly identify themselves by stating their name, address and occupation, as well as clearly explaining the nature of their relationship to you. The reference should be typed and free from spelling errors, signed and dated.
Make sure each character reference:
Do not include in a character reference:
Depending on your personal circumstances, it may be beneficial for your character reference to: