What is Skye’s Law?
In NSW, the offence of police pursuit, also known as Skye’s Law, was introduced as an amendment to the Crimes Act in 2010 following the death of 19-month-old Skye Sassine, who was killed in an accident caused by a high-speed police chase on New Year’s Eve 2009.
Skye’s Law is intended to deter evasion of police and high-speed police pursuits and the accidents, injuries, and deaths that can occur to those involved and community members.
As such, the courts take police pursuits very seriously.
Skye’s Law is an offence under Section 51B Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which states: that:
The driver of a vehicle… who knows, ought reasonably to know or has reasonable grounds to suspect that police officers are in pursuit of the vehicle and that the driver is required to stop the vehicle, and… who does not stop the vehicle, and… who then drives the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others, is guilty of an offence.
What do police need to prove in police pursuit cases?
To be found guilty of a police pursuit in NSW, it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that:
- You were aware or suspected a police officer was in pursuit of your vehicle and required you to stop;
- You failed to stop the vehicle; and
- You were driving recklessly or at a speed or manner dangerous to others.
- If any of the above elements are not proven in court, a not guilty verdict must be returned.
What are the penalties for police pursuit?
A first-time offender will face a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment, whereas a second or subsequent offender will face a maximum of five years imprisonment.
If convicted, a first-time offender will automatically lose their driver’s licence for three years with a minimum disqualification period of 12 months.
A second or subsequent offender will automatically be disqualified from driving for five years with a minimum disqualification of two years.
How can I reduce the penalties for police pursuit?
There are a few things you can do so your case is viewed leniently in court. They include obtaining character references, writing a letter of apology to the court, taking an approved driving course, and demonstrating you have taken steps to address issues that may have contributed to the offence.
In some cases, a magistrate may impose a penalty under section 10 dismissal or a conditional release order which will allow the offender to continue driving or not be convicted even when you are found or plead guilty to this offence in court.
What can I do to defend the charge of police pursuit (Skye’s Law)?
If you are charged with police pursuit, it is a good idea to employ the services of an experienced solicitor. They will give you the best chance of avoiding a conviction or reducing the maximum penalty.
- Legal defences that can be used include:
- If the commencement of the pursuit is not clear.
- When there is uncertainty about who the driver was.
- If you held an honest belief that you were not in pursuit by police.
- Duress or necessity.
Is it possible to have the charge of police pursuit downgraded?
An experienced criminal lawyer will ascertain if the evidence in your case is strong. If some of the evidence is vague or unclear, a formal letter can be written to the police to have the charge of police pursuit withdrawn and replaced with a less serious charge such as reckless driving or speeding.
We are here to help
Fourtree Lawyers are experienced in defending clients throughout the Central Coast, the Hunter Region and Sydney facing Police Pursuit charges in Court. If you have been charged with a Skye's Law offence and the Police want you to participate in a record of interview, you should exercise your "right to silence" and call us immediately.
Your lawyer can explain and guide you through the entire court process from beginning to end and work with you to defend you on a not guilty plea or minimise the ramifications of your offence if you choose to plead guilty.
If you or your loved one has been charged and held in custody and you need advice from a criminal lawyer, contact one of our criminal law specialists immediately on 1300 529 444 or fill in our contact form to arrange a free conference with a solicitor today. Contact us now! 24-hour legal advice 7 days a week
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