How to Obtain a Character Reference Court

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A character reference is a letter to the Court written by people who know you and are willing to write about your good character even though they know you are pleading guilty to a criminal offence. A good character reference will assist your team in making submissions to the Court. 


A character reference can:


  • Show the Court you are usually a person of good character; and
  • Tell the Court about any special circumstances or personal issues that may help explain why you committed the offence.
Who you may obtain a character reference from

A person writing a character reference should have a good reputation and should not have a criminal record. They may be:

  • your employer or a work colleague
  • your doctor
  • a teacher
  • a family friend or a close friend

Below is further information on how your reference can be.



“The Presiding Magistrate,

[The current Court you are before] Local Court

[address of the Court]

Your honour,

Character reference for court examples
  • How the author knows you, and for how long.
  • The author is aware that you are pleading guilty to an offence of (the offence you are pleading guilty to).
  • The author should state, if possible, whether or not such an offence is out of character with your usual behaviour and previous driving record/criminal history/character. They will need to say they are aware if you have any prior relevant matters.
  • The author should state, if possible, anything that would indicate in general terms your good qualities relating to such things as work, responsibility, family commitments, volunteering and reliability.
  • The author should state, if possible, whether you have expressed your feelings regarding the offence, remorse for your actions, and your sorrow, shame and embarrassment at being charged, given your manner of behaviour.
  • The reference should state if you have taken responsibility for changing your behaviour by attending a rehabilitation program (if possible).
  • The author should state, if they are aware, the effect that conviction will have upon your work, family, and any other commitments, with particular reference to your need for a clean record in regards to university/work/personal commitments; and
  • The reference should be signed and dated, preferably typed and on letterhead if the author has a letterhead that they are prepared to use.

The reference letter should be sincere and accurately depict you as a person. The Court will likely deal with many people who have similar offences, so your references give the Court the opportunity to learn more about you as a person and explain why you did what you did and why you won’t do it again.


“Yours sincerely,

[Name of Referee]”

The referee should sign it


  • Mohammad Khan | Criminal Defence Lawyer

    Mohammad Khan is the Principal Solicitor of Lyons Law Group. After graduating with a Bachelor of Aviation from the University of New South Wales, Mohammad took a keen interest in the law. He began training in criminal law under the tutelage of Australia’s leading criminal lawyer Adam Houda and studied law at the University of Sydney.