The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process: Consultation Paper


Acquitted Found not guilty of the charge or charges on the indictment.

Accused Person charged with a criminal offence.

Adversarial criminal trial A contest between the prosecution and the accused in which the parties determine the issues in dispute and the evidence to be placed before an impartial judge and/or jury, who decide the guilt or not of the accused on the evidence presented.

Alternative arrangements for giving evidence Measures which modify the usual procedure where a witness gives oral evidence from the witness box in front of the jury.

Civil jurisdiction In this paper, the use of the term ‘civil jurisdiction’ when referring to Australian courts means the procedures for hearing legal disputes other than criminal cases.

Committed to stand trial The process of transferring a case against an accused from the Magistrates’ Court to a superior court.

Common law Law that derives its authority from decisions of the courts rather than from legislation.

Complainant Term used in the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic) and other legislation to describe the person against whom a sexual offence is alleged to have been perpetrated.

Compensation Monetary payment intended to compensate in part or in whole for an injury suffered as a result of the commission of a crime.

Crown Prosecutor A representative of the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions responsible for prosecuting indictable offences on behalf of the state.

Defence The legal team representing the accused (in the lead up to, and including, the trial), or the offender (in sentencing).

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) The Director of Public Prosecutions is an independent authority who makes decisions about whether to prosecute, and prosecutes, criminal matters in the Supreme Court and County Court.

Discharge In this paper, used to describe the situation where a magistrate determines that there is not enough evidence to justify sending an accused person to trial, thereby ending the prosecution.

Equality of arms The notion that two sides in a contest have the same or similar resources available to them.

Financial assistance In this paper, refers to money that a victim may be eligible to receive from a state-funded victim compensation scheme.

Indictable offences Serious crimes which attract higher maximum penalties. Usually triable before a judge and a jury.

Indictable offences triable summarily Indictable offences which can be heard before a magistrate.

Inquisitorial criminal trial A form of criminal trial in which a judge or judges leads the parties in an official investigation that is aimed at establishing whether the accused committed the crime or crimes charged.

Jury The group of people selected according to the Juries Act 2000 (Vic) to decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty of the charges.

Leave The permission of the judge or magistrate.

Lawyer Includes barristers (sometimes referred to as counsel) and solicitors.

Offender Used to refer to a person who has been found guilty or has pleaded guilty to a crime.

Office of Public Prosecutions The Office of Public Prosecutions is the independent statutory authority that institutes, prepares and conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Order A direction by a court or tribunal that is final and binding unless overturned on appeal.

Plea An accused’s answer to a charge of an offence, which usually takes the form of ‘guilty’ or

‘not guilty’.

Plea agreement An agreement between the prosecution and accused as to which charge or charges the accused will plead guilty to, which might also include an agreed statement of facts.

Prosecutor A lawyer acting on behalf of the state against a person accused of committing a crime.

Reparation An action, which might be financial, practical or symbolic, directed towards making amends for wrongdoing. Sometimes referred to as ‘restoration’.

Restitution In this paper, restitution is used only when referring to restitution orders made under the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic). Restitution orders require an offender to restore or return something lost or stolen, or its equivalent, to its rightful owner.

Restorative justice Procedures that operate as an alternative or in addition to the criminal trial process, which focus on repairing the harm, encouraging offenders to take responsibility for their actions and increasing the involvement of victims, families and communities in the criminal justice system.

Sentencing hearing Sometimes referred to as a plea hearing. A court hearing in which matters relevant to imposing sentence, including matters personal to the accused and the victim impact statement, are presented to the judge.

Summary offences Less serious offences heard by a magistrate without a jury. Police prosecutors generally conduct the prosecution of state summary offences.

Victoria Legal Aid An organisation that provides legal advice to and representation for people who cannot otherwise afford legal assistance.

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