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If you have been asked to provide a character reference for a friend, colleague, employee or family member in relation to Criminal Proceedings then you may find the information below of some assistance in writing this reference.
There is no set form that this document should take but the most important thing is that the content is true to the best of your knowledge and belief and ultimately that you would swear to it’s contents on oath if required to do so.
Remember, the purpose of a character reference is to paint a picture of the person to show a different side to the one that is before the Court.
General Do’s and Dont’s
- DOÂ use examples to back up any assertions you make about the person’s character. Â For example if you suggest someone is hardworking then show it by example of what they do to make them so hardworking.
- DO address the reference to eitherÂ “The Presiding Magistrate”Â or “The Presiding Judge.”
- DO type the reference up if at all possible
- DO use official letterhead if you are able to do so
- DO state the how long you have known the person and in what capacity
- DO indicate thatÂ you are aware of the specific offence they have been charged with
- DO NOTÂ suggest the offence is completely out of character unless you KNOWÂ this to be the case. Â This can invalidate a perfectly proper character reference.
- DO detail any remorse, anxiety or change in behaviour that you have witnessed or observed since the commission of the offence.
- DO include anyÂ personal circumstances that you are aware of that may have contributed to the commission of Â the offence being careful not to try to excuse their behaviour, rather to provide an explanation to the court.
- DO NOT tell the court what to do and suggest the penalty that should be imposed
- DO NOT be critical of the legal system, the sentencing regime or the victim (if applicable)