This article is for general information only and should not be relied on for specific legal advice.  The author will not be held responsible for any action that a person takes as a result of interpretation of the contents of this article.  It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer for any legal problem. 

Are Character References Useful?

If you are pleading guilty to an offence in court then it is a very good idea to get some character references.  The court will take into consideration a number of factors at your sentence and one of them is your prior good character.  In order to establish your good character, you need to get members of the community to write to the court and demonstrate it. 

Recommendations for Character References

It is ideal to have two or three character references. The referee should know you for a long period of time possible, and the reference must say that they are aware of the charge is in good idea to get a reference from your employer if possible.  

Useful character references can be obtained from such people as; Professionals (Doctors, Accountants, Lawyers etc), people that you have known for a long time, business leaders, politicians, community leaders, employers, sporting leaders and the like.

What Should a Character Reference Include?

The reference should include the following points;

  • The Referee’s full name, age, occupation and contact telephone number;
  • One very brief paragraph outlining the referee’s own history and background;
  • The fact that the referee is aware of the nature of the matter, the outline of the allegations and the necessity to go to court;
  • The length of time that the referee has known the person and in what context;
  • Comment on any programs that the Defendant has done (for example the RATE Traffic Program / Anger Management / Drug Rehabilitiation etc).  Specific comment should be made about the efforts that the course has had on the person and any positive changes that they have made;
  • Any additional comments that you feel will be of importance to the court (such as good traits or achievements)

Requirements for a Character Reference:

A character reference MUST;

  • Be signed and dated;
  • Ordinarily be no more than one page in length;
  • Be clearly handwritten or typed;
  • Be in the referee’s own words;
  • Be addressed “To the Honourable Court”

The references are generally handed to the court at the time of your sentence.  You should have three copies of the reference with you – Court / Prosecutor and also one copy for yourself.

Sample Character Reference Guide


This is only a guide. For most up-to-date information or more help, please contact us or refer to our resources.

Penelope Doris Langer

71 Archer Street

Southport Qld 4215

Ph: (07) 1234 5678

TO:      The Presiding Magistrate / Judge

            <Insert the Courthouse where the matter is being heard>

Dear Your Honour,


My name is Penelope Doris Langer.  I am 56 years of age and I am currently working as a seamstress with Davis Garments Pty Ltd on the Gold Coast.  I have been working in that position for 28 years.  

I have known Jason for approximately 12 years.  I first met him when I was performing volunteer work with Meals on Wheels at Labrador.  Jason was also doing volunteer work with Meals on Wheels as a delivery driver.  Since that time, I have kept in regular contact with him and usually see him about once a week.  Jason has become close friends with my husband and son and they regularly play golf and sports together.  

I have been made aware of the charges which Jason is facing and his need to go to court.  He told me that he was charged with drink driving and that his reading was 0.130%.  I was shocked when I heard about this charge and was very disappointed to know that Jason has committed this offence.  

I know that Jason is very embarrassed and remorseful for having committed this offence.  He has told me that he has completed the Gold Coast Traffic Offenders Program.  He told me that he has learnt the dangers of drink driving and the risk that he posed to the community on this occasion.  

I stand by Jason as a good person and value his good character and friendship.  I know that Jason has learnt this lesson and I believe that he will never commit such an offence again.  He has always told his children and others that the road is a dangerous place and I believe that Jason now fully understands the consequences of poor decisions.  

I wish Jason all the best and I am proud to call him a true friend.  I can be contacted on the above number should you require any clarification.  

Yours Faithfully,

Penelope Langer