Skip to main content

Prosecution Guidelines


View legal term definitions.

Published 29 March 2021
On this page

Term Definition
accused a person charged with a crime; may also be referred to as the defendant or the alleged offender
acquittal a verdict that the prosecution has not proven that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
adjournment a break during a trial or other court proceedings to another time or day
admissible used to describe evidence that is allowed to be given in court
appeal a challenge made to a court’s decision, taken to a higher court
bail the release of the accused while criminal proceedings are taking place on condition that the accused will attend court and comply with any other condition imposed
barrister a lawyer whose main role is to present the evidence and make legal arguments in court on behalf of their client
beyond reasonable doubt the test (also referred to as the standard of proof) for proving a crime in court
breach of sentence when the offender is dealt with for failing to comply with a sentence
brief a collection of written or recorded statements or interviews, expert reports, video footage, photographs and other material obtained by an investigative agency and given to the ODPP
case conference a conference between a prosecutor and the accused’s legal representative under Chapter 2, Part 3, Division 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986
certifying a charge charge certification takes place in the Local Court when the DPP certifies which offences will be pursued against an accused person
charge the allegation that a person has committed a specific crime
charge resolution a process resulting in a decision by the prosecution to withdraw one or more charges on the accused promising to plead guilty to fewer and/or less serious offences and/or to place one or more offences on a Form 1 document
child a person under the age of 18 years
Children’s Court the court that deals with most cases where a child is charged with a crime in NSW
CCTV closed-circuit television
closed court a courtroom that is closed to members of the public
co-accused One or more persons or organisations charged with committing the same offence
committal when a case is referred from the Local Court or the Children’s Court to be dealt with in the District Court or Supreme Court
conference a meeting, such as between the prosecutor and a witness, to discuss the case
confiscation action taken by the government to take money and assets used in or obtained through crime
conviction a finding that the accused is guilty of a crime
counsel another word for barrister
count a charge on the indictment
court the building where the case is heard. Also used to describe in general terms the judicial officer hearing the case, such as a magistrate or judge
Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) the court in NSW that deals with conviction, sentence and other appeals from the District and Supreme Courts
client legal privilege See “legal privilege”
crime a breach of criminal laws, as set down in legislation or by the courts
cross-examination when the lawyer representing one party in the case challenges the evidence of a witness called by the other party, e.g. defence counsel may cross-examine a prosecution witness
Crown Prosecutor a barrister appointed under the Crown Prosecutors Act 1986
defence used to refer to the accused’s legal response to the prosecution, a lawful excuse for doing something or the accused’s legal team
defence counsel the barrister representing the accused
defendant a person charged with a crime; may also be referred to as the accused or the alleged offender
Deputy Director a Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW)
Director (DPP) the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) or delegate
discontinue proceedings end the prosecution
District Court the court that deals with most of the serious criminal cases in NSW
diversion an option for magistrates to deal with a person with a cognitive impairment, mental illness or other mental condition other than in accordance with law (s32 Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990)
domestic violence a wide range of behaviours, including physical, sexual and psychological abuse, occurring within married and de facto relationships, between family members, couples who are separated or divorced, and within shared households
Drug Court a court of record that deals with criminal matters involving accused persons who are addicted to illicit drugs
election NSW law allows for less serious indictable matters (Table Offences) to be dealt with summarily in the Local Court. An election is a decision by either party to require a Table Offence to be dealt with on indictment in the District Court – see also Table offence
evidence material presented in court to prove or disprove a fact; it may be what a witness says or an exhibit
ex officio charge a charge on an indictment that was not referred from the Local Court or the Children’s Court, which can only be authorised by the Director or a Deputy Director
examination-in-chief the questioning of a witness by the lawyer who represents the side that has called that witness to give evidence, e.g. the prosecutor asking questions of a prosecution witness
fitness hearing a hearing before a judge in the District or Supreme Court to determine whether the accused is mentally fit to face trial
Form 1 a document under s.32 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 containing a charge or a list charges that the accused agrees to have taken into account when being sentenced for some other offence; no conviction is recorded and no separate sentence is imposed for Form 1 offences
full-time detention the length of time to be spent by the offender in prison
harm physical, psychological or psychiatric harm, or having property taken, damaged or destroyed
hearing an important listing of the case in court, e.g. a trial, summary hearing or sentence hearing
immunity an indemnity or undertaking
indemnity protection against prosecution granted by the Attorney General under s.32 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986
indictable offence an offence that may be dealt with on indictment in the District Court or the Supreme Court
indictment a document filed in the District Court or the Supreme Court that lists the charges against the accused
informer witness a person who gives information to an investigative agency about someone else’s criminal activity in return for some benefit, e.g. a lighter sentence
investigative agency a government agency that investigates crime
interlocutory judgment or order a judgment or order given at an intermediate stage of a criminal proceedings, typically prior to the commencement of or during trial, in relation to (among other things) the admissibility of evidence
judge a person who hears cases in the District Court or the Supreme Court
judge alone trial a trial heard before a judge without a jury (s132 Criminal Procedure Act 1986)
legal privilege protection from revealing confidential communications and documents between a lawyer and their client, sometimes referred to as client legal privilege or legal professional privilege
limiting term a term similar to a sentence. Imposed by the District or Supreme Courts at the conclusion of special hearings (criminal proceedings used when accused persons are not fit to stand trial)
Local Court a lower court which hears less serious matters. A magistrate sits in the Local Court without a jury
magistrate a judicial officer who hears cases in the Local Court or the Children’s Court
mention a brief hearing of the matter in court
no further proceedings a direction to end the prosecution
non-publication order a restriction or prohibition in legislation or by order of the court against the publication of the case or some aspect of the case, e.g. a victim’s name
offender a person who has been found guilty of a crime
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) comprises the Director’s Chambers, the Crown Prosecutors’ Chambers and the Office of the Solicitor for Public Prosecutions
officer-in-charge (OIC) the officer in charge of the investigation, usually a police officer
plea the accused’s answer to the charge: guilty or not guilty
pre-charge advice advice provided by the ODPP to an investigative agency before charging
prescribed sexual offence proceedings proceedings that include a charge for a prescribed sexual offence as defined in s3(1) Criminal Procedure Act 1986
prosecution the criminal case, or the party running the criminal case (also currently referred to as the Crown)
prosecutor an ODPP solicitor or a Crown Prosecutor, including a solicitor acting for the DPP and private counsel briefed by the DPP
public interest immunity where it is in the public interest not to reveal confidential information
re-examination questioning a witness about answers the witness gave in cross-examination
retrial a new trial of the same case
sentence the penalty imposed by the judge or magistrate on a guilty offender
solicitor with carriage the ODPP solicitor who is responsible for a particular case
special hearing a hearing in cases where the accused has been found unfit to stand trial, to determine whether the accused has committed the offence; it is similar to a regular trial
special measures different arrangements for a witness to give evidence, e.g. the use of screens in the courtroom or giving evidence from another room by closed-circuit television
statement of agreed facts a written summary of the undisputed facts agreed to by the prosecution and defence for sentencing purposes
strictly indictable matter must be dealt with on indictment in either the District or Supreme Court
summary hearing a hearing before a magistrate in the Local Court or the Children’s Court
summary offence an offence that cannot be dealt with on indictment
Supreme Court the court in NSW where the most serious criminal cases are heard, e.g. murder
suppression order a restriction or prohibition in legislation or by order of the court against disclosure about the case or some aspect of the case
table offence an indictable offence listed in Tables 1 and 2 in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 that is capable of being dealt with either summarily in the Local Court or on indictment in the District Court or Supreme Court
trial a hearing where evidence is presented and a decision is made, can be with a jury or judge alone
undertaking a promise by the Attorney General that evidence given by the person in court will not be used against them under s33 Criminal Procedure Act 1986
verdict the decision of whether the accused is guilty or not guilty after a trial or hearing
victim a person who has suffered harm as a direct result of an act committed by another person in the course of a criminal offence, including a member of a deceased victim’s immediate family
Victim Impact Statement (VIS) a statement by a victim that may be read or presented to a court before the offender is sentenced to describe the effects of the crime on the victim
Victims Register a register to keep victims informed about what happens with an offender after the end of the case in court; e.g. possible release dates and parole hearings
witness a person who attends court to give evidence
Witness Assistance Service (WAS) a specialist service within the ODPP that provides assistance and support to victims and vulnerable witnesses in the criminal justice process