Glossary

Acquitted

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

Accused

Person charged with a criminal offence or offencesbut who has not been found guilty or pleaded guilty.

Alternative arrangements for giving evidence

Measures which modify the usual procedure in which a witness gives oral evidence from the witness box in the courtroom.

Civil jurisdiction

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

Committal for trial or
sentence

The process of transfering a case against an accused from the Magistrates’ Court to the Supreme Court or County 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 by an offender intended to compensate in part or in whole for an injury suffered as a result of the commission of a crime.

Criminal offence

A crime against the state. Most criminal offences are specified in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). The main categories or criminal offences are indictable offences, indictable offences triable summarily and summary offences.

Defence

The legal team representing the accused (in the lead-up to and before a determination of guilt), or the offender (after a determination of guilt).

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)

An independent officer responsible for making decisions about whether to prosecute, and prosecuting, indictable offences in the Supreme and County Courts of Victoria on behalf of the state.

Discharge

In this report, 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.

Financial assistance

In this report, refers to money that a victim may be eligible to receive under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (Vic).

Indictable offences

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

Indictable offences triable summarily

Less serious indictable offences which can be heard before
a magistrate.

Indictment

The charge or charges against the accused that the Director of Public Prosecutions has filed in the Supreme or County Court.

Intermediary

A person appointed to provide communication assistance during criminal proceedings to a child or a person with a disability.

Judicial officer

A judge or a magistrate.

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 pleadedguilty to a crime.

Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP)

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

Order

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

Plea

An answer by the accused to a charge of an offence which usually takes the form of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.

Police informant

The police officer responsible for filing charges against the accused.

Prosecutor

A lawyer who appears in court on behalf of the DPP against
an accused person or an offender.

Public prosecutions service

Defined in the Public Prosecutions Act 1994 (Vic) as the service consisting of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Crown Prosecutor, Crown Prosecutors, Associate Crown Prosecutors, the Solicitor for Public Prosecutions and the Office of Public Prosecutions.

Reparation

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

Restitution

In this report, 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, and which focus on repairing 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. 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.

Victim

In this report, victim generally refers to a person who has directly suffered harm at the action of the offender and includes a parent of a child victim or a family member of a homicide victim. It applies a person alleged by the prosecution to be
a victim prior to a determination of guilt as well as a victim
of an offence for which an offender has been found guilty.
See [1.3]–[1.9] for exposition of the term ‘victim’ as used
in this report.

Victoria Legal Aid

An organisation that provides legal advice and assistance
to people in accordance with the Legal Aid Act 1978 (Vic).

 

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