Police Pursuit- Section 51B Crimes Act 1900

Skye’s law, also known as police pursuit which was amended into the legislation following the strategic death of a 19-month-old Skye Sassine during a police chase in 2009.  The charge of police pursuit is treated very seriously

Maximum Penalties

If it’s your first offence, the maximum penalty is three years imprisonment and an automatic disqualification period of three years.

The court can exercise its discretion and reduce the disqualification period to 12 months where you have good reasons for requiring your licence – for example, if you need your licence for work or to transport a sick family member.

If it’s your second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty increases to five years imprisonment, and an automatic disqualification period of three years which can be reduced to a minimum of 12 months.

Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

The prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt as follows:

  • 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

You will be found not guilty if the prosecution is unable to prove these elements.

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.’

We can also help you identify any defences that can be raised 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

It is important that you speak to an experienced traffic lawyer who will be able to advise you of your options.

If you decide or have been advised to plead guilty to police pursuit after receiving legal advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer, it is crucial that your case is sufficiently prepared to maximise your chances at obtaining a lenient sentence.  

Utilitarian Value or 25% discount on punishment

The discount for the utilitarian value of the plea of guilty will be determined largely by the timing of your plea entered. That means, the earlier you enter a plea of guilty, the greater discount you receive on your punishment and also the type of sentence you receive.

The utilitarian value of a delayed plea is less and consequently the discount is reduced.

Types of Penalties

Types of penalties the Judge can impose on you include any one of the following:

  • Conditional Release Order
  • Fine

Our expert defence team at Criminal Lawyers Sydney may be able to negotiate the police ‘facts’ to reduce the seriousness of the offence.

Our team will guide you on obtaining materials which can be handed-up to the court during your sentencing – including a letter of apology, character references, and any documents from counsellors or health care professionals you have consulted.

These materials, together with persuasive verbal submissions by your lawyer in the courtroom, can help to ensure you receive the most lenient penalty that is possible in the circumstances.

If you have been charged with police pursuit, call Criminal Lawyers Sydney anytime on (02) 91528619 to arrange a free first conference with one of our experienced traffic lawyers who will review the allegations and advise you of your options and the best way forward.