Frequently Asked Questions

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Does the DPP provide advice to members of the public?

No. The Office of the DPP provides advice only to the RCIPS and other Government Departments/Authorities on Criminal Prosecutions and related matters.

Is the Crown Counsel my attorney?

The role of the Crown Counsel is to prosecute matters on behalf of all Complainants/Victims in criminal proceedings instituted by the State. The Crown Counsel is not your personal lawyer but is there as a representative of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Crown Counsel will however ensure that you are advised as to the dates for Court and that you understand the Court process.

What is the procedure if I no longer wish to give evidence?

If a Complainant or witness is of the view that he no longer wishes to proceed to trial in a matter he should advise the Investigating Officer of this and provide a statement setting out his new position and the reason for it. He will also be required to attend Court to state his position from the witness box. It should be noted that threats from the accused or persons connected to him/her are not usually a sufficient basis to withdraw a charge as measures can be taken to protect witnesses. The DPP’s office will review the case and determine whether or not the matter should proceed. A decision may be made that the matter will proceed even where a witness indicates he no longer wishes to give evidence.

Are witnesses permitted to ask that the Court room be cleared of the accused and the public when they give evidence?

The Criminal Procedure Code provides that all witnesses for the Crown must give their evidence in the presence of the Accused unless he has consented to be absent or as permitted by another Law. It also provides that the Court/Judge if it thinks fit at any stage of the proceedings relating to any particular case may order that the public generally or any particular person shall not have access to or remain in the room or building used by the Court. There are also provisions for a witness, in certain circumstances, to give their evidence via video link or behind a screen.

Do I have a say in what I believe the Defendant should be charged with?

While the statement given by a Complainant or Witness forms the basis of whatever charge is subsequently laid, the decision of what charges should be laid in ultimately that of the Director of Public Prosecutions who will take into account all the available evidence.

Will I be required to give evidence in Court in a matter where I am not the Complainant?

Statements given in respect of a crime are reviewed by the Prosecutor and served on the Defence. The Prosecutor may be of the view that even though you are not a Complainant or Victim, your evidence is important and requires your attendance. It is possible however that the Prosecutor and Defence Attorney may agree to read your statement into evidence in which case you would not be required to attend.

Does the Prosecutor need to meet with me before I go to Court?

The Prosecutor having reviewed the file may form the view that it is necessary to meet with a witness before a trial. This allows for questions to be asked by him/her to clarify issues. It is also useful for witnesses as it allows them to ask their own questions and ventilate concerns.

Can the Prosecutor accept a plea from the Defendant to a less serious charge without my agreement?

All prosecutorial decisions are taken after a full review of the evidence available. A Crown Counsel may meet with you in order to advise you of his proposed course of action. While your agreement is not required the Prosecutor takes into account concerns expressed and consequences for the Complainant/Victim.

Do I get to address the Court on Sentencing in matters where I am the Complainant or Family to the Victim?

During the sentencing phase the Complainant or Family of a Victim are permitted to submit a Victim Impact Statement to the Court. This statement details how the crime has affected the parties physically, emotionally and financially. The Crown Counsel may, in reviewing sentencing precedents, make recommendations on the sentence type (community service, fine, prison) or range (time period). The Court has the final decision on the sentence that the crime merits, and passes sentences accordingly.

Last Updated 2015-01-13