Role of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

The ODPP mission is to provide the people of Western Australia with a fair and just criminal prosecution service.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is the independent prosecuting authority for the State of Western Australia, responsible for the prosecution of serious offences committed against State criminal law in the Supreme and District Courts.

Any offences committed against Commonwealth criminal laws are prosecuted by the Commonwealth ODPP.

Criminal offences prosecuted in the Magistrates Court are generally prosecuted by the WA Police Force Prosecuting Division.

The ODPP acts independently of the Government in decision-making on criminal prosecutions. The Director is, however, responsible to the Attorney General for the operation of the ODPP.

The ODPP does not investigate crime — that is the role of investigating agencies such as the WA Police Force and the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).

The Criminal Prosecution Process

Complaints of a criminal nature are generally made to the ...

WA Police Force

... which will investigate the matter and, where appropriate, may charge the accused with a criminal offence. The case is initially dealt with in the ...

Magistrates Court

... before a Magistrate. If the offence is a more serious one (an indictable offence), the Magistrate may send, or ‘commit’, the accused to the District or Supreme Court for sentence or for trial.

The ODPP conducts committal proceedings in the Perth Magistrates Court and the Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court. The WA Police Force has the conduct of committals in suburban and regional Magistrates Courts. A prosecutor from...

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (the ODPP)

...will carefully review the case to see whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the case in the Supreme or District Court. If the ODPP decides that the case should not proceed because there is insufficient evidence, or for other reasons, this will be discussed with the victim of the crime at the earliest possible time.

If the ODPP decides that the case should proceed an indictment and prosecution brief will be prepared. The case will then be heard in the...

District or Supreme Court

...where the accused may plead guilty before a judge and be sentenced. 

If the accused pleads not guilty the case will need to go to trial before a judge and jury or in some rare cases before a judge alone. The ODPP will conduct the prosecution and call a number of police officers and other witnesses to give evidence.

All State criminal cases heard in the District or Supreme Court are prosecuted by the ODPP on behalf of the State of Western Australia. A case is concluded when the accused is convicted and sentenced, the matter is formally discontinued or the accused is acquitted.

Appeals

A convicted person can appeal to a higher court (the Court of Appeal) against the severity of the sentence or the conviction after trial. 

The DPP can appeal a convicted person's sentence in some circumstances. Appeals against the acquittal of an accused are extremely rare and can only be commenced in very limited circumstances.

The ODPP acts in all State criminal appeals in the Court of Appeal and in some State criminal appeals from the Magistrates Courts.

Victims of Crime

The ODPP is committed to recognising the needs of victims of crime. If they wish, victims will be kept informed of the progress of the prosecution case and will have the opportunity to participate in the sentencing process by providing a Victim Impact Statement for presentation to the Court and for the Judge to take into consideration when sentencing.

The Victim Support Service (VSS), a service of the Department of Justice, provides a range of services to victims of crime. More information can be found on the VSS website.

The ODPP represents the Western Australian community, not individual victims of crime. Therefore, at times, the ODPP, while considering the views of victims, may need to make decisions in the interest of the prosecution with which the victim may disagree. In these instances, the ODPP will always endeavour to keep the victim informed and explain the outcome and the reasons for it.

Refer to the dedicated 'Victims of Crime' page for more information.

Prosecution Witnesses

In defended cases, the ODPP may need to call a range of police officers, expert witnesses and members of the general public to give evidence on behalf of the prosecution at the trial. In many instances the victim of crime will also be called to give evidence.

If you wish to know more about the role of a prosecution witness please go to the ‘Witnesses’ page. 

Alternatively, you can contact the staff at the ODPP.

Page reviewed 21 December 2020