Character references for drug cases
A character reference is a written statement in support of your character by someone who knows you.
You can submit up to three character references in court.
We can arrange a free conference to advise you about what your character references should contain, and how they should be set out.
Here is a general guide:
1. Formal requirements:
- The best references are typed, on a letterhead, addressed to ‘Your Honour’ or ‘To the Presiding Magistrate’, signed and dated.
2. Your referee should say something about themselves, such as:
- what they do for a living and how long they’ve been doing it; and
- any positive contributions they have made to the community, such as charity work etc.
3. Your referee should say things about you, such as:
- the length of time and circumstances in which they’ve known you, eg 12 months through work;
- the frequency and way that you meet, eg every day at work; and
- your general character.
4. Your referee must mention that they know about your drug charge and its seriousness, such as:
- “I am aware that Peter has pleaded guilty to possessing ecstacy tablets which is a very serious offence”. There should be mention of any prior drug offences, eg “I am aware that Peter also has a previous drug offence in 2008”.
5. Your referee should say something about the conduct being ‘out of character’
6. Your referee should mention any shame, embarrassment, remorse etc that you have expressed
7. Your referee can mention any psychological or physical impact of the proceedings upon you
8. Your referee can mention any understanding you have gained about the effect of drugs on the community, eg:
- “Peter has spoken to me about the insight he’s gained into the effect of drugs on the community, including the fact that by purchasing drugs he inadvertantly supported the black market drug trade and all the negative elements that go with it. He has gained this insight through [his own research] or [speaking to his counsellor] or [speaking with a psychologist from the MERIT drug program”; and/or
- “He has also told me he was very lucky not to have taken the drugs on the days as they could have contained anything and may easily have led to him being admitted into the emergency ward, or worse”.
9. Your referee should refer to any concerns about a drug conviction eg:
- “I am aware that Peter is subjected to police checks on a regular basis and that a drug conviction may lead to him losing his job”
Please be awarre that this is a basic guide only, and the final form and content of any reference is up to your referee.