The Office of the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions
Prosecutors from the office of the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions are often the next people that victims meet within the justice system. Although prosecutors do not represent the victims, they have the opportunity to keep victims informed and involved in the criminal justice system.
People who have been directly harmed as a result of crime have a valid interest in the prosecution of those responsible and should be involved in the process and be made aware of decisions relating to the prosecution. Research has noted the importance of informing victims regarding the status of the prosecution particularly in relation to delays that may occur in the progress of a criminal prosecution.
The Act provides that the victim should be told:
- about the charges laid against the accused and any modification to the charges;
- about any decision concerning the accused to accept a plea of guilty to a lesser charge or a guilty plea in return for a recommendation of leniency in sentencing;
- about any decision not to proceed with a charge against the accused; and
- about the trial process and of the rights and responsibilities of witnesses.
The Act also provides that a victim should be protected from unnecessary contact with the accused person and defence witnesses during the course of the trial. It also provides that a victim should not have to appear at preliminary hearings or committal proceedings unless the court directs the victim to appear. It is vital that prosecutors are aware of these principles as they are the in the best position to ensure they are adhered to.
Including the victim in the trial process is important but of equal importance is ensuring a victim is aware of the outcome of a prosecution. The Act states that a victim should be given an explanation of the outcome of criminal proceedings and of any sentence and its implications.