Appendix 11: Glossary
When the Magistrate, jury or appeal court find that a person is not guilty of the crime.
Brief or brief of evidence
This is a collection of statements from witnesses (both police and ordinary witnesses), documents, expert reports, medical reports, photographs, bail papers, charge sheets etc. given to the CDPP by the police or investigating agency after they have finished their investigation. We use the material contained in the brief of evidence to decide whether a prosecution should take place and, if so, to prosecute the accused.
Commonwealth federal offence
A criminal offence against a Commonwealth federal law (as opposed to a state or territory law).
When a person accused of committing a criminal offence is found guilty of that offence and is convicted, a record of their conviction is recorded on their criminal history.
In higher courts the prosecution may be referred to as ‘the Crown’, the person representing the Queen, who is head of Australia’s system of government.
Information provided to the court that is used to prove or disprove a fact in issue in court proceedings.
To be legally responsible for a criminal offence. When a defendant enters a plea of guilty, they accept responsibility for the offence. When a defendant pleads not guilty, a jury will determine their guilt if the matter proceeds as a trial in a higher court. Where a defendant pleads not guilty in the magistrates or local court, the magistrate determines the guilt of the defendant.
A serious criminal offence that is usually heard in a higher court before a judge and jury. Less serious indictable offences and summary offences, are usually heard in a local court.
A prosecution or a proceeding in a court (a ‘case’) may be referred to as a ‘matter’.
No bill/no further proceedings
We may decide that a case will not proceed further, for example, due to insufficient evidence. This may be called entering a ‘no Bill’ or deciding there will be no further proceedings. A prosecution is discontinued when the court is informed of this.
A person who is found to have done something against the law. Until this happens, a person charged with an offence will be known as the alleged offender, defendant or accused.
The CDPP lawyer or lawyers conducting a criminal case before the court. Also referred to as Federal Prosecutors.
A CDPP lawyer or private barrister who presents the prosecution case in court on behalf of the CDPP.
A range of penalties can be given during sentencing of an offender including imprisonment, community service orders, good behaviour bonds and fines. The Crimes Act 1914 requires the court to consider a number of factors in deciding on the sentence for a federal offence, and also requires that the sentence be of a severity appropriate in all the circumstances of the offence.
A person who has suffered harm as the direct result of an offence or offences.
Any person who has to come to court and answer questions in front of a Magistrate or judge and jury.