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Appearing in Court and the Court Process

Appearing in Court and the Court Process

Director of Public Prosecutions


The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the agency responsible for the prosecution of crime in Ireland. During the course of an investigation of a serious crime, An Garda Síochána will investigate it and send a file to the Office of the DPP.  The DPP will then read this file to see whether there is enough evidence to prosecute someone for the crime and what the charge should be.


Who decides whether to prosecute?


The decision to prosecute is a serious one – it can have a lasting effect on both the victim of the crime and the accused person. Only the DPP or one of his/her lawyers may decide whether to prosecute in serious cases – for example, murder, sexual offences or fatal road accidents.   


An Garda Síochána may decide to prosecute in less serious crimes. However, the prosecution is still taken in the name of the DPP and the DPP has the right to tell An Garda Síochána how to deal with the case.

The DPP acts independently when deciding whether to prosecute. This means that no other person, or body, including the Government, can tell the DPP whether or not to prosecute a case. 


Where the DPP directs No Prosecution


If the DPP decides not to prosecute, reasons will be provided only to the Gardaí who investigated the case. However, whenever possible, they will give reasons in fatal cases to a member of the victim’s family or household on request.  The DPP will provide this information in cases where the death took place on or after 22 October 2008.
 

Prosecuting offences in court


The investigating Gardaí will tell you whether the DPP has decided to prosecute and, if so, when and where the court case will take place.


The most serious cases are heard in the:

Central Criminal Court;

Circuit Criminal Court; 

Special Criminal Court. 


In these cases, a barrister acting for the DPP will prosecute the case in court.  


Less serious cases are heard in the District Court.  In these cases either the investigating Gardaí or a lawyer acting for the DPP will prosecute the case in court.
 

What the DPP can do for victims and witnesses


If you are a victim you can ask the DPP to:


Take your views into account when he/she is deciding whether to prosecute;

Look again at a decision he/she has made with which you do not agree. 

If a member of your family or household is the victim in a fatal case, you can request the DPP to inform you whenever possible of the reason for not proceeding with a prosecution.


If you are a witness, the DPP will:


Treat you with respect and take account of your personal situation, rights and dignity;

Work with An Garda Síochána to make sure that you are kept up to date on your case, especially if it is about a violent or sexual offence;
 
Arrange for you to talk to the prosecution solicitor and barrister before the court case begins, if you wish. They will explain what will happen in court, but they cannot talk to you about the evidence you will give.
 


If the accused has been sentenced, the DPP can:


Ask the Court of Criminal Appeal to review the sentence if he/she thinks it is unduly lenient – in other words, so light that it is wrong in law. The DPP can ask for a review of sentences from the Central Criminal Court, Circuit Criminal Court and Special Criminal Court. The DPP cannot appeal a sentence from the District Court.


Further information on reporting a crime and court procedures is available on the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) website or by contacting:


Director of Public Prosecutions
14-16 Merrion Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: (01) 6789222

Fax: (01) 6610915

Email:

Website: www.dppireland.ie


Probation Service


The Probation Service is an agency within the Department of Justice and Equality. Probation officers work with offenders across the country, as well as in prisons and detention centres, to make communities safer. This is done by helping offenders to lead better lives, remain free from crime and to take cognisance of the harm caused to victims. 

 
The role of the probation officer is to:


Provide a service to courts, including supervising offenders in the community;

Prepare reports on individual offenders, which include the impact of the crime  or offence on the victim(s)

Organise a family conference for a young offender, if it is ordered in court;

Put into practice programmes that aim to address offending behaviour and reduce victimisation.
 

Probation officers  take into account the victim’s feelings and trauma when carrying out their work. 


If you are a victim, probation officers:


Will prepare a victim impact report with you, when requested by the courts;

May invite you to take part in a family conference for a young offender and support you in this process;

Will explain the meaning of the different orders that they operate for the court, if you ask them to do so. They will do this by phone, in writing or face-to-face, depending on the circumstances.
Post Sentencing and Coroner Service