The decision to prosecute
After a person has been charged with an offence, the case will handed to a police prosecutor or a Crown Solicitor (depending on the seriousness of the crime) who will decide whether to take the case to court. This is called the decision to prosecute.
What is the role of the prosecutor?
The prosecutor works for the government and is responsible for prosecuting cases on behalf of the Crown, the police and the public. You may need to be a witness for the prosecution to help prove the case against the defendant.
It is the prosecutor's job to decide whether to proceed with the prosecution. If they decide to proceed, they will ‘file charges’ with the court.
Deciding whether to prosecute
The prosecutor will look at all the evidence and decide whether it is strong enough to prove that the defendant committed the crime. The prosecutor will also consider whether it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.
In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime they are charged with.
Sometimes the police prosecutor will decide that the defendant should go through diversion rather than going through the formal court prosecution process. Defendants have to complete conditions as part of diversion.
More information about prosecutions
- Police Prosecution Services - New Zealand Police Website (external link)
- Crown Law Prosecution Guidelines (external link) (PDF, 307KB)
Read about your right to be told about the charges
Right to be given information about the investigation and criminal proceedings
The police or prosecutor must tell you or your support person:
- what charges have been filed against the defendant and any changes to those charges
- if no charges are laid, the reasons for not laying charges
- what your role as witness for the prosecution is, and
- the date and place of all the defendant’s court hearings.