The decision to prosecute

After a person has been charged with an offence, the conduct of the prosecution is passed to either a police prosecutor or a prosecutor from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) depending on the alleged offence. It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to decide whether to continue with the prosecution.

In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused person committed the crime with which he or she is charged.

The decision to prosecute is based on an assessment as to whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction. This involves deciding how strong the case is likely to be when presented in court. There must be admissible, substantial and reliable evidence that the criminal offence has been committed by the accused. In making this decision, in addition to assessing the strength of the evidence, the prosecutor will consider the following factors:

    • your wishes and concerns
    • the public interest in bringing a prosecution.

Less serious offences are prosecuted by the Police Criminal Justice Sections. These offences are prosecuted by police prosecutors in the Magistrates Court, or where the accused is a youth, in the Youth Court (see Juvenile Justice System).

Serious offences are prosecuted by the DPP, which is an independent prosecution authority. Offences prosecuted by the DPP can sometimes be dealt with in the Magistrates Court, but will usually only start in the Magistrates Court, and be finalised in the District Court or the Supreme Court.