TGB's criminal law team outline what supporting documents you may want to have prepared when pleading guilty to a criminal charge.
TGB’s criminal law team outline what supporting documents you may want to have prepared when pleading guilty to a criminal charge.
If you have decided to plead guilty to a criminal offence, then you or your lawyer will have the opportunity to address the Court to explain your personal circumstances and your reasons for committing the offence. This is called a Plea in Mitigation.
Your lawyer’s role is to bring any ‘mitigating’ factors to the Courts attention that may, in the Court’s opinion, decrease your culpability or decrease the extent to which you should be punished. The following are examples of documentation that can assist in sentencing:
Character references are letters to the Court by people you know that attest to your good character. Anyone can write a character reference for you, even if you are related to them, but letters from employers and other independent people in authority usually hold greater weight.
At the minimum, the character reference should outline how the person knows you, how long they have known you, that they are aware of the charge/s before the Court and what sort of person they know you to be. The letter should be addressed to the Court and be dated and signed by the person writing the letter.
Reports from professionals can independently confirm to the Court what was occurring in your life at the time you committed the offence and that you are addressing your issues. Your lawyer can write to the relevant professional on your behalf and request a report that addresses the important factors.
In example, if you were suffering from personal stressors or mental health issues at the time of committing the offence, your General Practitioner, Psychologist or Psychiatrist may be willing to confirm this to the Court and state any improvement in your circumstances since then. If you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs but have been seeking help to address your issues, a letter from your Counselor explaining the steps you have taken since the offence can be viewed positively by the Court.
Letters of Apology
If you have committed an offence that effected someone else, ie. an assault, and you are sorry about what happened, then you may wish to talk to your lawyer about writing a letter of apology to the victim. You should not approach the victim yourself but your lawyer may be able to work with the police or prosecutor to give the victim the opportunity to accept your letter. A copy of this letter can be provided to the Court to show that you are remorseful for your actions.
For further information or assistance with your legal matter contact your nearest TGB office.