Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 12:59

Court Character References

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Court Character References

Providing character references to a Queensland magistrate or judge can positively influence the outcome of sentencing. As a seasoned criminal defence lawyer in Queensland,

I aim to simplify the importance of character references, how to obtain them, their content, and their impact on court decisions.


What is a Legal Character Reference?

A legal character reference guides the court about a person's character from someone who can attest to it. The referee should clarify their identity, relationship with the person, reasons for considering them of good character, awareness of charges, and the impact of the offense. References from various connections, including friends and family, can provide valuable insights.


Why Get a Character Reference?

Character references provide information about an individual's character and their response to the offense, assisting the court in determining an appropriate penalty. They offer a holistic perspective beyond the alleged offense, providing positive insights that may counterbalance negative information presented in court.


Do Character References Matter?

Character references can significantly influence the court's decision, particularly in sentencing. However, their impact varies, and some judges may not find them as helpful. It's crucial to consult with your lawyer to gauge whether a reference is advisable based on the judge's preferences.


Who Should Write a Character Reference?

Choose individuals who know you well, such as employers, colleagues, teachers, mentors, or community leaders. Family and friends can also provide character references. Select people who can vouch for your character, integrity, and contributions to the community.


How Should a Character Reference Be Set Out?

A character reference should be formal, professional, addressed to the presiding judge or magistrate, and include the writer's contact details. It should be dated, signed, typed, and printed on letterhead if from a business. Keep it concise, preferably not exceeding two pages.


What Goes Into a Court Character Reference?

Include specific examples of positive qualities, such as honesty, reliability, empathy, and community involvement. Address the writer's relationship with the person, awareness of charges, impact of the offense, and whether the person is likely to re-offend. Remember, referees are not required to attend court.


Main Components of a Court Character Reference

A court character reference to be used in a criminal law matter should include at minimum:

  • Reference writer's identity
  • How the writer knows the defendant
  • Reasons the defendant is of good character
  • Acknowledgment of criminal charges
  • Impact of the offense on the defendant
  • Opinion on the likelihood of re-offending


What Should Not Go in a Character Reference?

Avoid irrelevant or prejudicial information, negative comments about the legal proceedings, alleged victim, or justice system. Never minimize the offense or suggest a penalty.


What to Do Once Given a Character Reference?

Ensure its accuracy and provide a copy to your lawyer for review. Always bring the original reference to the court date.


How Many Character References Should I Get?

Quality matters more than quantity. Aim for 2-4 well-crafted references from credible sources that offer a comprehensive view of your character.


How is a Character Reference Used in Court?

During sentencing, character references are presented to the court as part of the defence’s case, influencing the judge's decision.


Can I Get the Reference Back After Court?

The court typically retains character references, but you can request a copy for your personal records.



Character references play a crucial role in Queensland criminal courts, offering a tool to present a comprehensive view of the defendant. By selecting and presenting quality references, individuals can enhance their chances of a favourable outcome. Quality and authenticity are paramount in this process.


Click to download court character reference template


Why should I engage Clarity Law?

Quite frankly we care about getting the right outcome for our clients and helping them through one of the most difficult times in their lives.

In the face of a criminal law charge, selecting the right legal representation is paramount, and Clarity Law offers a unique blend of proficiency and empathy that sets us apart. Our firm is dedicated to providing clarity in the often complex world of criminal law. We believe that every client deserves a clear understanding of their rights and the legal process they're navigating.

Our experienced team of lawyers approaches each case with a commitment to open communication, ensuring you're informed every step of the way. With a proven track record of securing favourable outcomes, we have the expertise to navigate even the most intricate legal challenges.

At Clarity Law, we strive not only to be your staunch advocates but also to provide a supportive, understanding environment during this trying time. Choosing Clarity Law means choosing a team that will tirelessly work to protect your rights and pursue the best possible outcome for your case.

You can read more about our founder, Steven Brough’s, journey to starting Clarity Law by clicking here.


How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you

  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

  3. Click here to select a time for us to have a free 15 minute telephone conference with you

  4. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  5. Send us a message on Facebook Messenger

  6. Click the help button at the bottom right and leave us a message


We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide free initial information to assist you. If you want to engage us then great, we will give you a fixed price for our services so you will know with certainty what we will cost. All the money goes into a trust account monitored by the Queensland Law Society and cannot be taken out without your permission.

If you don’t engage us that fine too, at least you will have more information on the charge and its consequences.


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Read 3478 times Last modified on Tuesday, 16 January 2024 16:40
Steven Brough

Steven Brough is a criminal defence lawyer and founder of Clarity Law with over 22 years experience he has appeared in almost every court in Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences and getting them the best outcome possible.