​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

Department of Justice is now the Department of Communities and Justice.  Find out more >

Instructions for writing a character reference

Icon - sample/instructions  This page has information on how to prepare a character reference to be used in the local court. You can use this information to help you find someone to be a referee. This information can also be used by the person writing a character reference.

For a sample, see Sample character reference.

    ​​What is a character reference?

    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 have been charged with a criminal offence.

    A character reference can:

    • show the magistrate you are normally a person of good character
    • tell the magistrate about any special circumstances, such as why you need a licence or any personal issues which may help explain why you committed the offence.

    Who can give you a character reference?

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

    • a neighbour
    • your employer or a work colleague
    • your doctor
    • a teacher
    • a family friend
    • a member of a club or organisation that you belong to, for example a local sporting club, community group or a church or other religious organisation.

    You should avoid asking people under the age of 18 to prepare a character reference.

    You should be willing to tell your referee about the offence. This is because it is important that the referee say that they are aware of the offence, but still believe you are someone of 'good character'.

    How to prepare a character reference

    Character references should be typed or neatly written on a white A4 piece of a paper. If it is from your employer it should be on letterhead if possible.

    It should:

    • be dated
    • have their name and address on the right hand side
    • be addressed to "The Presiding Magistrate" of the court you have to go to
    • be signed with their name printed underneath.

    What to include

    They should state:

    • their name and occupation
    • that they are aware that you have been charged with an offence and what that offence is
    • that they are aware you are pleading guilty
    • how long they have known you
    • how they know you, for example, employer, workmate, priest, teacher, team member, family friend, flat mate
    • their opinion of your character, including any information about your involvement in community groups or sporting organisations, volunteer work you have performed
    • what they know of your plans for the future
    • anything else about the charges which might help the court, for example your need for a drivers licence.

    What not to include

    The reference should not include the following:

    • their opinion about the appropriate penalty
    • any irrelevant information
    • if you have committed other similar offences in the past, don't include a statement that the offence is 'out of character' or that you will not offend again
    • any comment about the law, the police or the role of the court
    • any statement that they know is false, or they do not agree with.

    Icon - hint  You should take the original letter and three copies to court. The original will be kept by the court. You will need to give one copy to the prosecutor, keep one for your records and have a spare.