Making the right impressions in court
When you appear in court, you want to stand out from the crowd for the right reasons. This means prior preparation and planning, to prevent a poor performance. There are a number of things you can do.
You should dress appropriately, not everyone owns suits and ties, and frankly they are not necessary. But don’t show up in shorts, torn jeans, round neck T shirts. Dress as though you are making an effort to show the court some respect.
The chances are this will be a daunting, even frightening, experience for you. As such, it is likely you may forget what you intended to say. Make note with some dot points about what you want the magistrate to know.
- These should be no more than one – one and half pages long
- They should be addressed to The Presiding Magistrate/Judge at XXXXXX Local/District Court
- They should commence with words similar to “I am aware [Person’s name] has been charged with [state the offence(s), and is appearing before you for sentencing.
- They should state how they know you and for how long
- They should state their opinion of you and, importantly, explain why they hold that opinion
- They should not tell the court what sentence to pass
- They should explain the allegation – other than to say, it is out of character but only if it is
- The reference should be typed, dated and signed – original documents are better than copies, and it must be addressed to the Court.
It is always a good idea to be prepared to eat humble pie and tell the court, if you are, that you are sorry for the offending and coming before the court. The court will want to know why you acted in the way you did and what you have done to make sure you will not repeat the offence.
The court will also want to know a little about you and how this whole process has affected you and, if it has, you family.
Again, this should be no more than one to one and half pages, typed and addressed to the court.
- Your appearance before the magistrate/judge is your one chance to impress. If you are representing yourself, remember to the call the judicial officer “Your Honour” and follow the guide above.