Crown Prosecutors are barristers who appear in court and perform other related functions, on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions (the Director).
There are presently 84 Crown Prosecutors in NSW. They are statutory appointments made by the Attorney General pursuant to the Crown Prosecutors Act 1986.
Most Crown Prosecutors appear in criminal jury trials in the District Court and Supreme Court. They also appear on behalf of the Director on conviction and sentence appeals in the Court of Criminal Appeal and the High Court of Australia.
Crown Prosecutors are independent and perform a very specialised and demanding role. In a criminal trial the Crown Prosecutor represents the community. Their role is to assist the court and the jury to arrive at the truth and to do justice between the community and the accused. They are required to lay before a jury all the credible evidence considered relevant to what is alleged to be a crime. Their role excludes any notion of winning or losing.
In addition to appearing in court, Crown Prosecutors settle and determine the appropriate charges and provide legal advice to the Director on a wide range of issues, including whether there is sufficient evidence to justify proceeding with a particular prosecution or whether the proceedings should be terminated.
Crown Prosecutors are often 'instructed' at trial by solicitors from the ODPP. Solicitors are responsible for preparing the brief of evidence, liaising with the police and witnesses, organising conferences and any exhibits, as well as assisting the Crown Prosecutor at trial.
Crown Prosecutors are often appointed from the private bar, although quite a number have been previously employed as solicitors with the ODPP.
They are often referred to as ‘Crowns’.