Prosecution obligations

Law books and scales of justice

A prosecutor’s primary obligation is one of fairness.  Fairness must eventually dictate the discharge of all the functions of a prosecutor.  Who must the prosecutor be fair to?  A prosecutor must be fair to an accused but that cannot be the sole consideration.  There are other parties with legitimate interests who are also entitled to expect a prosecutor to act in a particular way.  Sometimes these interests will conflict with those of the accused.

A prosecutor has varying degrees of obligation to:

  • the court (judge and jury)
  • the community
  • the accused
  • victims
  • witnesses
  • defence counsel

A fair trial

A prosecutor must play his or her part in securing a fair trial for persons accused of criminal offences.  A fair trial is one that results in justice being done, i.e. conviction of the guilty as well as acquittal of the innocent.

A fair trial may also be described as one where all relevant credible evidence is presented, tested and adjudicated upon according to law.  The obligations of the prosecution to the various parties flow from those concepts.

Prosecution policy and guidelines

The Prosecution Policy and Guidelines include further information on prosecution obligations and duties.