Letter of Representation
In a letter of representation, your solicitor may assist in putting forth your version of the circumstances surrounding the alleged offence along with arguments as to why the charges should be reduced or dropped. The best-case scenario that may arise is where the prosecution decides to take no further action on the charge, which means that the charge will be dropped. There are also instances where the charges are amended to an offence of a lower “severity” or where a stern warning is given in lieu of criminal sanctions.
|Best & Worst Case Scenario||No Further Action||Charges against you are dropped.|
|Unconditional Stern Warning||You will be discharged amounting to an acquittal. This means the prosecution will not pursue this matter further and you are not found guilty of the offence.|
|Conditional Stern Warning||You will be discharged not amounting to an acquittal. This means that the prosecutor retains the right to prosecute you for this offence or any new offences in the future. The prosecution will impose conditions on you during this period, once the conditions have been complied with, a discharge amounting to an acquittal will be granted.|
|Amended Charges||The prosecution may reduce the charge from one that carries a heavier sentence to one that is less severe. Examples are provided below.|
|Proceed with Original Charges||The prosecution will proceed with the original charges against you.|
If the prosecution has charged you with two (2) charges of outrage of modesty offences (“the 2 OM charges”) and one (1) charge of theft of a sandwich and a drink from Cold Storage worth $10.00. Your solicitor, upon understanding your version of events, may be able to explain in the letter of representation what actually happened during the time of the offences you are charged with.
In this scenario, it might be the case that you only stole the sandwich and drink in desperation to feed your hungry sibling because of the financial difficulties your family faces. Additionally, you regret your actions and are willing to make full restitution of the stolen sandwich and drink worth $10.00 from Cold Storage. Your solicitor, in the letter of representation will assist in informing the prosecution of your circumstances and willingness to make full restitution. In doing so, your solicitor will request for the theft charge to be taken into consideration. If a charge is taken into consideration, this will have an effect on sentencing.
By taking into consideration the theft charge, the Prosecution will only proceed with the 2 OM charges and the accused will only be guilty and sentenced on the 2 OM charges instead of the 2 OM charges and the theft charge.
The charge(s) preferred against you will determine the sentence(s) you could receive should you be convicted of the offence(s). Let’s take another example to put things into perspective: If an offender causes the death of another person, the prosecution could decide to charge him or her with murder under section 300(a) of the Penal Code.
If convicted, the offender could be sentenced to a death penalty. However, if the prosecutor proceeds with a lesser charge, the offender may very well escape the gallows.
The charge(s) ultimately determine the course of proceedings that follow which would have significant impact on your life and liberty. In addition, future employers may require you to declare any past convictions or subject you to background checks. Given the right circumstances, a letter of representation may result in the prosecution proceeding on lesser chargers or lead to the charge(s) being withdrawn completely.
It is therefore of worthwhile to reach out to the prosecuting party to attempt negotiations whenever it is possible
|Example||Original Charge||Amended Charge.|
|Stealing goods in a shopping centre||Theft in dwelling house, etc under section 380 of the Penal Code punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 7 years, and shall also be liable to fine.||Theft under section 378 of the Penal Code punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 3 years, or with fine, or both.|
|Inflicting bodily harm onto another person||Voluntarily causing hurt under section 321 and 323 of the Penal Code punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 2 years, or with fine, or both.||Voluntarily causing grievous hurt under section 322 and 325 of the Penal Code punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 10 years, and with fine or with caning.|
|Causing the death of another person with the intent to cause death||Murder under section 300 and 302(1) of the Penal Code punishable by death sentence.||Culpable homicide under section 299 and 304(a) of the Penal Code punishable with life imprisonment and caning, or a maximum imprisonment of 20 years and caning.|
Letters of representation can be sent after one has been charged in court, asking for the charge(s) to be reduced or for the prosecution to proceed on lesser chargers. Alternatively, letters of representation can be sent during the course of investigation in an attempt for a “No Further Action”. This happens before one is charged in court. Therefore, it is advisable to approach a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss and explore the viability of writing a letter of representation.
There is no limit to the number of letters of representation that can be sent. In fact, when new circumstances and evidence arise, further letters should be sent. This is so that your lawyer can more convincingly make the case as to why the charge(s) should be withdrawn or reduced.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Importance of a Letter of Representation