Letters of apology in drug cases
A letter of apology shows the magistrate or judge that you understand the serious nature of your drug charge, and shows you feel remorse.
There is no magic formula to writing a letter of apology, as it is about your own feelings, insight and understanding.
However, here is a basic guide to matters you may wish to consider including:
- It can be addressed to ‘Your Honour’.
- It should be typed, signed and dated.
- It can state why you are writing the letter, eg: ‘I am writing this letter to express my sincere remorse for the irresponsible and dangerous conduct I engaged in through purchasing drugs on this night’.
- It can accept responsibility, eg: ‘I know that there was no excuse or satisfactory explanation for my conduct, and I accept complete responsibility for what I’ve done’.
- It can say something about your general character, eg ‘I am a hard worker and have never had any adverse contact with police, let alone being arrested and charged with this serious crime. I still cannot understand or explain my foolish decision to buy these dangerous drugs’.
- It can say something about the experience of your arrest, eg ‘The experience of being arrested by police in front of my friends and others was a humilating experience’.
- It can speak about what you have done since the incident and what you have learnt, eg ‘Since this incident, I have [spoken to a psychologist from the MERIT program] or [spoken to my counsellor] or [undertaken research] which has helped me to gain an insight into the impact upon the community of my decision to buy drugs and the danger to which I exposed myself. Through my decision to buy drugs I have inadvertantly supported the drug trade and all the negative aspects that go with it, including broader criminal activity and community harm. In terms of the personal danger, I did not know exactly what these particular pills contained and I could easily have been in a hospital emergency ward, or even dead, due to the potentially lethal cocktail of substances they may have contained’.
- It can explain the possible consequences of a drug conviction eg:
- ‘I have had a lot of time to reflect on what the potential impact of my criminal act upon my present job and my future, and it could severely impact on both…’.You should give examples of what your job / career require, eg
- ‘My present job requires me to be conviction free and I am afraid that a drug conviction could cause me to lose my job’ OR
- ;’I must declare every year that I have no criminal convictions and, if I have a conviction especially for something like drugs, my position will be reviewed and I could be dismissed’ OR
- ‘My job requires me to undertake overseas travel on a regular basis and I am afraid that a drug conviction might prevent me from fulfilling my work obligations, and cause me to lose my job’ OR
- ‘I am a student studying Nursing and I fear that all my efforts have gone to waste through my foolish criminal act, because registration as a Nurse requires stringent background checks and I may be refused registration due to a drug conviction. I am also required to obtain a police check before clinical placements and I may not be able to fulfil that component of my degree’….
Your examples should be personal, honest and accurate.
Finally, you should not tell the magistrate or judge what to do eg “I need you to give me a non conviction order and allow me to stay conviction-free”.
That decision is totally up to the court.