The public prosecutor

What are the main tasks of a public prosecutor?
The public prosecutor directs the investigative proceedings. In consultation with the criminal police, he/she will decide on which investigative measures are taken to establish the facts. The public prosecutor is held to ascertain the truth and to investigate all facts which are relevant for assessing a criminal act. All circumstances serving to incriminate the accused, as well as those exculpating the accused, must be investigated with equal care. In doing so, the principles of proportionality and legality must be heeded.

The public prosecutor usually issues an order to conduct investigations which are then carried out by the criminal police. Only in rare cases does the public prosecution itself conduct investigations. For certain investigative measures, such as a house search, the public prosecutor must obtain court approval beforehand.

Once all necessary investigations have been completed, the public prosecutor decides whether to prosecute, whether an extrajudicial settlement can be reached, or whether the investigative proceedings are discontinued altogether.

Like the criminal police and the court, the public prosecutor must duly heed the rights and interests of crime victims and inform all victims of their principal rights in the proceedings and of the possibility of obtaining financial compensation and assistance. Moreover, the public prosecutor must be objective and impartial when exercising office and avoid any appearance of bias.

What is the role of the public prosecutor during trial?
If the public prosecutor decides to bring criminal charges against the offender, a representative of the public prosecutor’s office must attend the ensuing court hearing. In the court hearing, the public prosecutor may put questions to the defendant, the witnesses, and court experts. Moreover, the public prosecutor may file motions for additional evidence.