On New Year’s Eve 2009, two alleged robbers were involved in a high speed pursuit with the police.
At the same time, the Sassine family was heading home with their 19 month old daughter Skye safely buckled in her car seat.
The alleged robbers during their high speed chase crashed into the Sassine family, killing Skye.
The driver of the vehicle was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Skye Sassine, but there were no charges against the driver for creating a high speed chase with the police. This case created such an impact on the people of New South Wales that a new law was passed.
The Crimes Amendment 2010 (Police Pursuits), more commonly known as Skye’s law, makes police pursuit, high speed or not, a separate criminal charge.
The law was finalized in March 2010, and the first criminal charges involving Skye’s law occurred within a few weeks of its inception.
In the first two years that Skye’s law went into effect, over 445 people were charged with this offense, and over 180 were sentenced to jail time.
Convictions Associated with Skye’s Law
If a person is convicted of a Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law), they face up to three years in jail for a first offence.
People who have been convicted of a different crime in the five previous years to being convicted of a Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law) will face a five-year jail sentence instead of three years.
If a person is convicted a second time for Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law), the jail sentence is five years.
It should be noted that this is a separate charge and that drivers involved in a police pursuit can also be charged with reckless driving, speeding, and additional charges if their fleeing causes an accident or other physical damages.
How The Law Defines A Police Pursuit
Skye’s Law is a very specific law regarding a police pursuit and all the qualifications needed for a person to be charged with this offense.
The law specifically states that to be charged with this crime the driver must:
- Know, reasonably know, or suspect that the police are in pursuit of their vehicle and require their vehicle to stop
- Willingly does not stop the vehicle
- Drives at speeds that are reckless and a danger to others*
*Reckless driving must occur after the person knows or should have known that the police were trying to make them stop their car. Reckless driving prior to the police pursuit is a different charge.
The police must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that each of these factors has been proven for the charge to be made against the accused.
Possible Defences for a person charged with Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law)
It is very important to understand that being charged with a violation of Skye’s law is a very serious offense.
A large majority of people who are charged and plead guilty to a Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law) offence serve time in jail. While circumstances do vary, the courts have been very strict with this law and implementing punishment for convictions.
There are, however, legitimate defences for this charge and working with a Lawyer can help secure the best possible result.
Some of the defences that may be available include:
- Unexpected Pursuit. The person being charged with the crime of Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law) had no reason to believe that they were being pursued by the police or that they should be required to pull over.
- Self Defence. The person accused of the crime had a belief that if they stopped their vehicle for the police that they would be harmed in some way.
- If the driver can show that they were under some type of duress during the police pursuit, the court may find that their actions were necessary. A classic example of this would be someone who is urgently trying to reach the hospital due to a serious injury that they have suffered or one of their passengers.
Being Convicted of a Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law)
There are several punishments that are attached to being convicted of a Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law).
The court can impose one or more of these punishments based on the circumstances surrounding the case and the defence that is presented during the hearing.
The court can impose:
- Imprisonment for up to three years
- Home detention
- Intensive correction order
- Community service order
- Section 9 – Good behaviour bond
- Section 12 – Suspended sentence
- Section 10 – Non-conviction with guilty plea
Each of these penalties can also include a disqualification of driving privileges and may not include any penalties that are imposed for other charges.
It is very important that you seek legal representation when facing charges, a Police Pursuit (Skye’s Law).
While it is possible to represent yourself in court for these charges, it may not be in your best interest.
Being convicted of this charge can have a very serious impact on your life.
If you have been charged with this offence you must urgently speak with a Criminal Defence Lawyer from Benjamin & Leonardo we have a 100% success rate of keeping people out of gaol who have committed this Crime.