What is the offence of Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law)?
The offence of Police pursuit is found at section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900.
Police pursuit or Skye’s law was introduced to increase penalties against drivers involved in police chases. It is an offence that can be defended where you were unaware the police were following you and could not reasonably have known. Police will often accept a plea of guilty to a lesser offence such as drive in a manner dangerous.
If you are charged with the offence of Police pursuit, your options will normally be to plead guilty or not guilty.
Pleading not guilty
You will be found not guilty of the offence of Police pursuit harm if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt:
- You drove a vehicle; and
- Knew, ought reasonably to have known or had reasonable grounds to suspect that police officers are in pursuit of the vehicle and that you were required to stop the vehicle; and
- You did not stop the vehicle; and
- Then drive the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others.
Are there any other defences to Negligent Driving?
If the police are able to prove the above elements beyond reasonable, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:
Contact our offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown or Redfern to organise a time for one of our criminal lawyers to advise you of your prospects of successfully defending the charge of Police pursuit.
If you agree that you have committed the offence (and the police are able to prove so), it is best to plead guilty as you will normally receive a discount on sentence and it will demonstrate remorse and contrition. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to less serious facts or even a less serious charge.
Police pursuit carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment for a first offence and 5 years imprisonment for second offence. Police pursuit is a serious criminal offence and if you are charged with it you should contact our office immediately.
Can I keep my licence if I am charged with police pursuit?
Where you are charged with this offence, a court cannot decline to record a disqualification or impose a disqualification less than the mandatory period unless your matter is dealt with by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.
Depending on the circumstances of your offending and the number of times you have committed this offence, our lawyers are often able to convince a court to deal with this offence by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty (including no disqualification) and you will have no criminal record. To find out more about a section 10, click here.
In deciding whether to deal with your matter by way of section 10, the court will consider, amongst other factors:
- Your character (employment, family, charity)
- Your criminal record (if any)
- Your traffic record
- The circumstances of you consuming alcohol
- The circumstances of your driving
- The deliberateness of your offending
- Your need for a licence in particular for employment, family or medical reasons, or where you live in a remote area
- Whether you have completed the Traffic Offenders Program
Do I need references for a police pursuit offence?
In order to obtain a section 10, driving suspended/disqualified cases should be tailored to address the above factors and matters unique to your own case. In order to give you the best chance of keeping your licence, it is recommended that you work closely with one of our solicitors to prepare your case. Your criminal lawyer will request you obtain references. If the offence is one that carries a loss of licence, the referees should state your needs for a licence. Below are some reasons a court may invoke for not recording, or reducing, a disqualification period.
Loss of employment is a classic reason for a court not disqualifying a person. If a person will lose their job if they lose their licence then the referee should put forward that assertion with absolute certainty. The court will see straight through waffle such as “his position may be reviewed”. For example:
A licence disqualification will prevent Joe Blog’s from fulfilling his duties and hence, if this occurs, he will be asked to temporarily leave his post until the disqualification lapses or if the disqualification is for more than 3 months, his employment will be terminated as per clause 8.2 of his contract enclosed herein. There is no discretion in this situation. He is a sales representative and our clients cannot be serviced by public transport.
Lack of public transport
No viable alternative transport is a matter the court may consider when deciding whether to impose a disqualification. This mainly applies to people in the country, but may apply if you are a shift worker, reside or work in an area not serviced by public transport, or to females who work late. For example:
Joe Blog’s works at Marayong Chickens in an industrial area where there is no public transport. He wakes up at 3am, leaves at 4am, and starts his shift at 5am. We have explored all options and, as he is the only licenced driver in our family, he has no way to get to work if he loses his licence. We have a mortgage and two school age children. Without a licence, he cannot get to work. Worse still, we’d have no way to get to the Richmond shops, a 20 minute drive from where we live on acreage.
Family reasons such as care for a child or elderly parents, sickness of yourself or another who relies upon your ability to drive, are matters a court may consider. For example:
Joe Blogs resigned from his job to look after our sick son as he is the only licenced driver in our family who could take him to his daily medical appointments. When he stopped working, I started a lower paying job. Even though it meant less money, it was the only way we could ensure our son received the treatment he needed. Joe is with our son 24 hours a day in case his conditions worsens and he needs to be taken to hospital. We simply cannot look after our son without a car.
A detailed guide to reference writing can be viewed here.
Other penalties a court in NSW can impose:
- Section 10 – No conviction recorded
- Section 9 – Good behaviour bond
- Community service order
- Section 12 – Suspended sentence
- Intensive correction order
- Home detention
- Full time imprisonment
Why choose AC Law Group?
Our solicitors are experts at representing persons charged with police pursuit. To read more about AC Law Group, click here, and call us at Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown and Redfern or or make a website inquiry today.