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Police Pursuit

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

Andrew Tiedt

In NSW, the offence of police pursuit is listed under section 51B of the Crimes Act. The offence is also known as Skye’s Law as it was introduced after the toddler Skye Sassine was killed when a driver attempting to escape police crashed into her parent's car.

The maximum penalty for "Police Pursuit" is 3 years gaol for a first offence, or 5 years in gaol if you have been convicted of another major offence in the 5 years immediately before. There is a minimum disqualification period of 1 year and an automatic period of 3 years.

The offence of Police Pursuit is a "Table 1 Offence" meaning that it can be dealt with in the Local Court or the District Court if either the defence or the prosecution so choose.

In order for the police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The driver knew, ought reasonably to have known or has reasonable grounds to suspect that police officers were in pursuit
  2. The driver knew, ought reasonably to have known or has reasonable grounds to suspect that the driver was required to stop the vehicle
  3. The driver did not stop the vehicle, and
  4. The driver subsequently drove the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others

Each of these elements needs to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt for the charge to succeed.

If, for example, the driver did not know the police were pursuing and had no reason to suspect they were pursuing (perhaps because the lights and sirens could not be heard) then the charge cannot be proved.

Additionally, reckless or dangerous driving has to occur after the pursuit commences, not before.

This is a very technical offence and careful advice from an expert is essential before any decisions are made.

Defences

Statistics

The penalties for Police Pursuit vary greatly depending the criminal and traffic record of the offenders, the seriousness of the offence and personal circumstances of the offender.

In very rare circumstances defendants have managed to escape conviction by being dealt with under what is called "Section 10". However, the vast majority of people who plead guilty or are found guilty of this offence have a conviction recorded against them, and approximately 40% are sentenced to full time gaol.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of seeking legal advice before you enter any plea for Police Pursuit.


where to next?

In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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