Negotiating with the police
You can write to the police and ask them to consider withdrawing (dropping) or changing a charge. This is often called 'making representations to the police'.
When do you write to the police?
You can write to the police to get your charges withdrawn or changed when:
- you think you have a good defence
- you think the police have little or no evidence to prove you committed the offence
- you agree to plead guilty to a less serious charge if the police withdraw the more serious charge
- you want to plead guilty but you disagree with the police facts sheet and you want to have it changed.
Before you speak or write to the police about withdrawing or changing your charges, you should get
If you do not have time before your court date to send written representations, you may be able to speak to the police prosecutor at court.
Who do you address the letter to?
You should address your letter to the:
- Officer in Charge
- Police Prosecutor
- Local Area Commander.
Officer in Charge
The name of the Officer in Charge (OIC) will be on the CAN. It will state the officer's name, rank and station.
The Police Prosecutor responsible for the matter will depend on the court where the case is listed. You can contact the court or police and get the details of the prosecutors responsible for your case.
Local Area Commander
A Local Area Commander is the head of a particular Local Area Command (LAC). You can find out which LAC the police station that charged you belongs to by:
- ringing or visiting the police station where you were charged or which sent you the CAN and asking them
- going to Regions / Local Area Commands section of the
NSW Police Force website.
What do you include?
In the letter, you should include:
- your full name and address
- the offence you were charged with, using the same words for the charge that are on the CAN
- the reference number on the CAN. This is usually called an 'H number' because it starts with an H.
You also need to explain what you want the police to do:
- withdraw the charges, or
- change the Police Facts Sheet.
Withdraw the charges
If you are writing to the police because you want the charges withdrawn, you should also include in your letter:
- a request for one or more of the charges against you to be withdrawn
- an explanation for why you think the charge(s) should be withdrawn
- any evidence you have for why the charges should be withdrawn.
Change the Police Facts Sheet
If you are writing to the police because you want to get the police facts sheet changed, you should also include in your letter:
- the exact words or sentences you want changed or deleted
- the reason why you want them changed or deleted
- any evidence you have for why these sections should be changed or deleted.
When making written representations to the police, be careful not to admit that you committed an offence. Before you send the letter, you should get
Sample representations to police - withdraw the charge.
Sample: Sample representations to police - change police facts sheet.
Make sure you let the police know how they can contact you and make sure you keep a copy of your letter.
What if the police don't agree to your request?
If the police do not agree to withdraw the charge, you need to consider whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty. You should get
If the police do not agree to change the police facts sheet, and you have chosen to plead guilty, you have two options:
- plead guilty and allow the prosecutor to give the police facts sheet to the magistrate as it is, or
- plead guilty and tell the magistrate that you would like a 'hearing on the facts'.
A hearing on the facts is a hearing to work out what version of events will be given to the court. Both the prosecution and you can call witnesses and other evidence to try to prove a particular version of events. The magistrate will then decide which version to accept. Before asking for a hearing on the facts, you should get
What if the police don't respond?
If the police don't respond by the time your case is in court, you can:
- ask the registrar or magistrate to adjourn your case until the police have made a decision.
- talk to the police prosecutor at court.
Ask the registrar or magistrate to adjourn your case
You should tell the registrar or magistrate that you sent written representations to the police and you have not received a response. Make sure you know on what date you sent it and have some proof if possible, for example an express post tracking number. You should also have a copy of the written representations with you.
You should be prepared to plead guilty or not guilty in case the registrar or magistrate does not agree to give you an adjournment.
Talking to the police prosecutor at court
You can check with the police prosecutor at court if they received your request and possibly give them another copy.
The police prosecutor will usually sit at the bar table at the front of the courtroom. Always be polite and courteous when speaking to them. If they are too busy to talk to you in court, ask them if they can speak to you during the morning tea break (which is usually at around 11:30am) or at another time during the day. If the magistrate calls your name before you have had a chance to speak to the police prosecutor you can ask the magistrate if they can 'stand my matter in the list' (which means to adjourn to a later time in the day) until you have had a chance to talk to the police prosecutor.
It is unlikely that the prosecutor will withdraw any charges on the spot at court but they may agree to change the police fact sheet. If they agree, they will usually use a black marker to cross out the words or sentences you both agree should be removed.
If the police prosecutor does not agree to the change, you should be prepared to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge.
For more information about how to plead, see
Pleading guilty or not guilty.
For more information about what happens at court, see
The first court date.