How to prepare for your WA Magistrates Court sentencing

How to prepare for your WA Magistrates Court sentencing

If you have been charged with a criminal offence in WA and you elect to plead guilty or are found guilty following a trial, the Court will then sentence you for the offence. At yoursentencing, you or your lawyer will have an opportunity to make submissions in respect of the sentence to be imposed. In the Magistrates Court it is common practice to also tender supporting documents to the Court. These documents can come in a variety of forms.

Character references

In most circumstances, it is appropriate to obtain and tender one or two character references. Character references from employers are particularly valuable as they often demonstrate to the Court that you are a productive member of society. However, there are certain things that the references will need to include, such as an acknowledgement that the person writing the reference is aware of the offence/s that you are being sentenced for. The character reference should of course also say positive things about you. For example, it might explain that you are ‘hard-working’, or that you have expressed remorse to the person about your offending.

Apologies

In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to prepare a written apology to your victim or to the Police (for example in a drink driving matter). If you intend to provide a written apology to a victim, you must ensure that doing so does not cause distress to the victim and/or breach any bail conditions that you may be subject to, such as being prohibited from contacting the victim. The safest way to convey an apology is to provide it to the prosecution(normally the Police) to pass on to the victim.

Programmes and counselling

In many cases, it is appropriate for a person to seek professional counselling about their offending or attend a certain programme. For example, a person charged with assault might attend an anger management programme. If you engage with such services, you should request that they provide you with a letter that is addressed to the Court that explains the services that they have provided to you.

Mitigating materials for alcohol and drug offences

If you are charged with an alcohol or drug-related offence, you may wish to engage with a service providing programmes or classes in relation to reducing or even abstaining from substance use. There are a range of providers available in WA and there is also an opportunity (depending upon circumstances) for a person to go through a pre-sentence diversion programme. Completing these types of engagements combined with (if appropriate) clean drug tests and a Liver Function Test with results in a ‘normal’ range may help demonstrate to the court that you have changed your behaviour. 

Medical documents

If you have a medical condition that is relevant to your offending, it may be appropriate to obtain a letter or report from a doctor or other appropriate health practitioner. Whether you should obtain the letter or report from will depend on the seriousness of the offending and the complexity of the medical condition. 

Finally, if you have read this far and think that you need some practical advice or assistance in relation to your situation, then now is probably the time to get in touch. Austral Legal can help and we offer an initial discounted 30-minute SmartMove appointment for $80 by phone or in person at our office. Bookings can be made online through our website or simply by phoning our office on 08 9745 9550. Once we have a handle on what is required, we may well be able to offer a fixed fee for any further legal services, giving you cost certainty from the start. Austral Legal. Practical advice.