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Skye’s Law and Police Pursuits – s 51B Crimes Act

Skye’s law, also known as ‘police pursuit,’ was an amendment to the Crimes Act after 19 month old Skye Sassine was tragically killed during a police chase on New Years’ Eve 2009, when two alleged robbers crashed into the car that she was travelling in.

Since then, courts have treated police pursuit matters very seriously. However, with an experienced traffic lawyer on your side, you can give yourself the best possible defence against the charges – and you may potentially even escape a conviction if your lawyer is able to get you a ‘section 10.’

Read on to find out how our expert traffic lawyers can help you win your police pursuit case.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

 If you believe that you are innocent, you can fight to have the charges dropped. There are several ways to do this.

The first is to show that the prosecution is unable to prove one or more of the ‘essential elements’ of the offence – before you can be found guilty of any offence, there are certain things that the prosecution must prove.

For police pursuit cases, the prosecution has to prove four things:

  • That you drove a vehicle
  • That you knew or reasonably should have known that you were being pursued by the police
  • That you did not stop after you realised that the police were in pursuit
  • That you then drove recklessly or at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to others

If the prosecution is unable to prove each and every one of these four elements, you will be found ‘not guilty’ by the court.

This means that if you are able to raise evidence to prove that you did not know that you were being pursued by the police, or that you did not drive in a dangerous manner or at a dangerous speed, you will be found ‘not guilty.’

Alternatively, you might want to raise a defence in court to explain or justify your actions. For example, you may argue that:

  • You were coerced or threatened into evading a police pursuit (duress)
  • You evaded the police pursuit to prevent serious injury or danger – for example, if there was a medical emergency and you were driving someone to hospital (necessity)
  • That you were reasonably mistaken as to whether you were being pursued by the police – for example, where you are being chased by an undercover police car and you were unsure whether it was a police car (reasonable mistake of fact)

If you’ve been charged with police pursuit, you should get in touch with an experienced traffic lawyer as soon as possible, as they will be able to advise you of your options when pleading ‘not guilty.’

Pleading Guilty

If you don’t want to fight the charges, you can plead ‘guilty’ at the start. You will then be sentenced by the magistrate or judge, who will determine the appropriate penalty after considering all the facts and circumstances of your case.

Pleading guilty at an early stage may even be beneficial in some cases, as it will show the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.

Often, this will compel the court to give you a lighter sentence than you would have received if you were found guilty by the court following a defended hearing or trial.

However, before making a choice to plead guilty, you should speak to an experienced traffic lawyer, as there may be a way in which you can fight the charges and be found ‘not guilty.’

If you’re considering pleading guilty, you may also be wondering what kinds of penalties you could face.

Under the law, the maximum penalty for police pursuit matters depends on whether it’s your first or subsequent offence.

If it’s your first offence, the maximum penalty is three years imprisonment. You will also face an automatic disqualification period of three years, however, with the help of a good lawyer, you may be able to convince the magistrate or judge to reduce the disqualification period to 12 months by showing the court that you have good reasons for requiring your license – for example, if you need your license for work or to transport a sick family member.

If it’s your second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment, plus an automatic disqualification period of three years, however, you may be able to persuade the magistrate or judge to reduce this to 12 months.

It’s important to bear in mind that these penalties are maximums – which means that they will only be imposed in the most serious cases.

Often, if you are being represented by a highly experienced traffic lawyer, you can convince the magistrate or judge to impose a more lenient penalty.

In many cases, we have even been able to obtain ‘section 10s’ for our clients, which is where you are found guilty of the offence but no conviction is recorded on your criminal record, and you are allowed to keep your license.

Other types of penalties that the court can impose are:

  • Section 10
  • Fine
  • Good behaviour bond
  • Community service order
  • Intensive correction order
  • Home detention
  • Suspended sentence
  • Full-time imprisonment

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

It’s only natural to feel worried and upset about being charged with evading a police pursuit, especially if you’re worried about how losing your license will impact your ability to work or travel.

However, the expert traffic lawyers at Sydney Criminal Lawyers can help you fight the charges and obtain the best possible result. In many cases, we’ve even been able to help clients keep their license.

Our lawyers have decades of experience defending some of the most serious traffic matters. Our specialist knowledge of traffic law, combined with our extensive experience, has allowed us to develop tried and tested techniques to help people avoid harsh penalties in police pursuit cases.

Unlike other law firms, we always push to have the charges dropped at an early stage by showing that police do not have enough evidence to prove that you committed the offence.

Alternatively, we can have the charges downgraded to a less serious charge, such as speeding, which carries lesser penalties.

We can also fight to ensure you get the minimum disqualification period, so that the impact of the offence on your ability to work and travel is minimal.

Even if you simply wish to plead guilty, you can benefit from the experience of our lawyers, who will always push to have matters dealt with leniently.

In many cases, we’ve even been able to obtain ‘section 10s’ for our clients – which is where you are found guilty of the offence, but no conviction is recorded on your criminal record, and you get to keep your license.

We also guarantee that you will be represented by one of our senior Accredited Criminal Law Specialists – highly respected lawyers who have years of experience winning these types of cases.

So, for the best legal advice and representation in your police pursuit matter, speak to the experts at Sydney Criminal Lawyers. Call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and book your FREE first conference with us.   

What should I do next?

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