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Character references are a powerful tool that can significantly influence the outcome of court proceedings. They provide a unique perspective on the defendant's character, allowing judges and magistrates to make informed decisions.

When written thoughtfully and following the established guidelines, a character reference can offer a path to redemption, understanding, and justice.

Understanding Character References

In simple terms, a character reference is a legal document that provides one person's opinion of another person's character. It serves as an essential tool in helping the court understand and make informed decisions about the defendant. Character references are commonly used in criminal law matters in Queensland, and their impact on the case can be substantial.

The Role of Character References

Character references play a pivotal role in influencing the outcome of a case, shedding light on the defendant's background, and highlighting their positive attributes. In some instances, a well-crafted character reference can sway the final decision in favour of a more desirable outcome.

What Do Character References Typically Include?

Character references often include:

  1. Personal History: A brief history of the relationship between the referee and the accused.

  2. Understanding of the Charges: An explanation of the accused person's charges and circumstances.

  3. Opinion of the Accused: An honest opinion of the accused person's character.

  4. Positive Attributes: Highlighting the defendant's positive qualities.

The Benefits of Character References

Character references offer several advantages:

  1. Revealing True Character: They allow the defendant to present their genuine character, often portraying them in a positive light.

  2. Insightful: They provide valuable insights into the defendant's character, potentially leading to a reduced sentence or penalty.

  3. Potential for Favourable Outcome: In some cases, a powerful character reference can even result in a complete acquittal of the charges.

Of course, the effectiveness of a character reference depends on the specifics of the case. It's advisable to seek guidance from a professional lawyer to ensure that you make the right choices tailored to your unique circumstances.

Who Can Write a Character Reference?

There are minimal restrictions on who can write a character reference. Anyone who knows the accused person can serve as a referee. However, it's essential to select someone who has a close relationship with the accused and a deep understanding of their character. This ensures a detailed and compelling reference. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that inherent bias can be a concern, particularly in references from immediate family members.

Rules and Guidelines

Before a referee submits a character reference, there are specific guidelines and rules to follow, including:

  1. Typed Document: Character references should be typed, not handwritten.

  2. Signature and Date: The document must be signed by the referee and dated.

  3. Proper Addressing: Address the reference to "The Presiding Magistrate" in the Magistrates court or "The Presiding Judge" in the District/Supreme Court. Refer to judges and magistrates as "Your Honour."

  4. Formatting: Ensure that the formatting is clear and legible.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

If you've been charged with an offence and are unsure about the intricacies of Australian Law or how to write a character reference, consider seeking assistance from a professional lawyer. They can provide valuable guidance to ensure your reference has the desired impact.

Contact Creevey Horrell Criminal Lawyers

Based in Brisbane, Roma, Toowoomba, and Townsville.

Visit to contact us today.


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