Victims of crime and the State Prosecution Service
If you are a victim of crime, you may be concerned about whether the crime will be prosecuted and whether the perpetrator will be brought to justice.
The State Prosecution Service is a service provided by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The Chief Prosecution Solicitor acts as solicitor to the DPP. Prosecution solicitors represent the DPP in all courts in Dublin while local State solicitors represent the DPP in courts outside Dublin.
The Director of Public Prosecutions enforces the criminal law in the courts on behalf of the people of Ireland, directs and supervises public prosecutions on indictment in the courts, and gives general direction and advice to the Garda Síochána in relation to summary cases and specific direction in such cases where requested.
The DPP's Office is totally independent – the Government cannot order the DPP to prosecute or not to prosecute any particular case.
Although nearly all prosecutions are formally taken in the name of the DPP, the decision about whether to prosecute in most cases is actually made by the Gardaí. However, the decision to prosecute in the most serious cases (for example, murder, sexual offences) is made only by the DPP.
If the DPP decides to prosecute, the prosecution solicitor (in all courts in Dublin) or the local State solicitors (in courts outside Dublin) work with victims in the following ways:
- They work with the Garda Síochána to ensure that the victim is kept informed of developments in relation to the prosecution especially those of a violent or sexual nature
- At the victim’s request, they facilitate a pre-trial meeting between the victim and the solicitor and barrister (counsel) dealing with the case to discuss the case. The purpose of this meeting is to explain the trial process to the victim. They do not discuss evidence with witnesses in advance of a case.
When a court has found a person guilty, it will decide on the sentence. If the DPP considers the court sentence to be too lenient, it may appeal the sentence to the Court of Appeal. The DPP cannot appeal against a sentence given in the District Court.
Further information on victims of crime and court cases is available on the DPP website.
Decision not to prosecute
If the DPP decides not to prosecute in a particular case, the reasons are given to the investigating Gardaí and are kept confidential.
Reasons for decision
The DPP and his staff do not meet the victims to discuss decisions. However, a victim can ask the DPP for a summary of the reasons for the decision not to prosecute. This applies to all decisions made since 16 November 2015. A family member of the victim in a fatal case can ask for a summary of the reasons for the decision not to prosecute.
You must make your request within 28 days of the date you are told of the decision not to prosecute.
If the decision not to prosecute was made by the Gardaí, a victim can ask the Gardaí for a summary of the reasons for the decision.
Review of decision
A victim, a family member of the victim in a fatal case or a solicitor acting on their behalf can request a review of a decision. If you have requested a summary of the reasons for the decision not to prosecute, you must make your request for a review within 28 days of the date on the letter telling you of the reasons. If you have not asked for the reasons for the decision, you must make your request for a review within 56 days (8 weeks) of the date you are told of the decision not to prosecute.
How to apply
To request a summary of the reasons for the decision not to prosecute you must send a Request for Reasons form to the Communications and Victims Liaison Unit at the address below. You can download the Request for Reasons form (pdf). It is also available in Garda stations.
To request a review of a decision not to prosecute you should write to the Communications and Victims Liaison Unit at the address below requesting the review.
You can find more information on how to request reasons and reviews on the DPP website.
If your expectations are not met or if you have a query or complaint, you can write to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Further information is available in Section 6 of the Victims Charter (pdf) and their booklet, The role of the DPP (pdf). You can also learn more about your rights and entitlements as a victim of crime on the Victims Charter website.
Where to apply