COULD CHARACTER REFERENCES BE A CATALYST FOR REDUCED PENALTIES?
What would you do if you were provided another pathway to redeem yourself, have your story heard, or be better understood during a court proceeding? It could be true, with character refences and witness statements in the QLD Court, Australia.
Character references and statements can be instrumental in determining the outcome of your case, as it often provides further backstory into the alleged offence and highlights the positive attributes of the defendant. Sometimes, it’s a powerful character reference that can sway the final decision that is made, ending in a more favourable outcome.
Understanding Character Witnesses, Statements and References.
In simple terms, a character reference can be defined as a legal document describing one person’s opinion of the other person’s character.
Character references can include a brief personal history between the referee and accused, understanding of the accused charge, the truthful opinion of the accused and the positive attributes of the accused. A character refence is a large assistance in the understanding of the defendant and assists in the decision-making process.
We commonly see character refences being used in criminal law matters in Queensland.
Could character refences be a catalyst for a change of penalty amidst the jury or judge’s decision-making process? As previously mentioned, a well-conducted, concise, enlightening and persuasive character witness statement or character reference can be enormously powerful in the court.
The benefits of character refences are:
• The defendant is able to display their true character (generally good natured) to the court, judge, jury or magistrate.
• They provide thorough insight into the defendant’s character and can result in a lessened sentence or penalty.
• Powerful character refences can result in a total acquittal of the charge.
Of course, this is dependent on the case at hand. A professional lawyer will be able to provide you with the correct advice you need, suitable for your unique circumstance.
Who may write a character reference?
There are almost no restrictions to whom is able to write a character refence. As long as the character refence is written by someone who knows the accused, they can be a referee.
You may decide on the following to write you a character refence:
• Family member(s); • Co-worker(s); and/or • Friend(s)
However, for a more powerful character reference, it’s Important for the accused to select someone who is of close nature and understands them very well. This will ensure a detailed reference is given. But of course – inherent bias can be an issue here, too, typically seen in immediate family character references.
Once again, for appropriate selection and advice please look upon the help of a professional lawyer at this time.
Rules and Guidelines Involved
There are certain guidelines or rules to follow before the referee submits a character reference. These include, but are not limited to:
• Providing a typed character refence (no hand written refences) • Signing the document with their signature and date • The reference should be addressed to a ‘The Presiding Magistrate’ in the Magistrates court or ‘The Presiding Judge’ in the District/Supreme Court, with any further references to the judge or magistrate as ‘Your Honour’. • The formatting should be clear and legible
Do you need a lawyer?
If you have been charged with an offence, and, like others, are unaware of how to interpret the intricacies of Australian Law and what’s involved with writing a character refence, a professional lawyer will be able to assist you.
Please contact our team at Creevey Russell Lawyers as soon as possible.