After indictable charges are instituted there is usually a preliminary inquiry (PI) or trial in the magistrate’s court. PI’s must be conducted for indictable offences such as murder, manslaughter and rape. After the PI is completed, the DPP receives the depositions.
Upon receipt of the depositions, the DPP either prefers indictments or discontinues the charges depending on the evidence contained in the depositions. Where indictments are preferred they will then be presented to the judges in the high court for hearing at the Assizes.
THE DPP AND CIVIL MATTERS
The attorney-general is instructed by the DPP in relation to civil actions that arise out of criminal causes or matters investigated by the police or other agencies.
BRINGING POLICE PROSECUTORS UNDER THE DPP CHAMBERS
Generally it is preferred that prosecution of criminal charges be done by lawyers.
The majority of criminal charges are disposed of in the magistrate’s court and police prosecutors appear for the prosecution, thereby resulting in the prosecution of a number of cases being done by police prosecutors.
In order to improve the quality of prosecutions, it has been decided as part of the justice sector reform Programme, that the police prosecutors be assigned to the chambers of the director of public prosecutions full-time. It is proposed to do so gradually commencing with three (3) police prosecutors who are presently assigned to the chambers.
The police prosecutors assigned to the chambers fall under the direct supervision of the director of public prosecutions for the purpose of conducting prosecutions.
By being at the chambers it is hoped that they would have immediate access to the state lawyers at the chambers to get advice on prosecution of cases as well as to have access to the chamber’s library for research purposes.
DEALING WITH PRISONERS AND THE PUBLIC
The DPP also receives letters from prisoners who are awaiting trial in the high court.
On receipt of these letters, if the DPP has not yet received the depositions, a letter is written to the registrar of the supreme court indicating the relevant request.
Members of the general public who feel aggrieved in relation to matters pertaining to the administration of the criminal justice system are advised to visit the DPP ’s chambers to seek justice.
Each complaint or observation lodged with the DPP’s chambers, is addressed and this will assist the DPP in executing the functions of the chambers under the constitution of Guyana.
- A PRELIMINARY INQUIRY (PI)? THIS IS A HEARING TO DETERMINE WHETHER THERE IS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROSECUTE AN ACCUSED PERSON IN THE HIGH COURT BEFORE A JUDGE AND JURY
- A DEPOSITION? THIS IS THE DOCUMENTED TESTIMONY OF A WITNESS TAKEN BY A MAGISTRATE DURING THE HEARING OF THE PI
- A HABEAS CORPUS WRITE? THIS IS A WRIT USED TO BRING A PERSON TO COURT. OFTEN IT IS USED TO ENSURE THAT NO PERSON IS UNJUSTIFIABLY IN POLICE CUSTODY
- AN INDICTMENT? THIS IS A FORMAL WRITTEN ACCUSATION OF A CRIME THAT IS PRESENTED TO COURT FOR PROSECUTION OF AN ACCUSED
- A SUMMARY OFFENCE? THIS IS A PETTY OFFENCE THAT CAN BE PROSECUTED WITHOUT AN INDICTMENT
- AN INDICTABLE OFFENCE? THIS IS A SERIOUS OFFENCE. SOME CAN ONLY BE TRIED BY A JUDGE AND JURY
- A PROSECUTOR? THIS IS A LEGAL OFFICER WHO REPRESENTS THE STATE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS. PROSECUTORS IN THE MAGISTRATE’S COURT ARE NOT LEGAL OFFICER.