Frequently Asked Questions

Advocacy and Briefing

+As a private barrister, how can I get briefed by the OPP?

Barristers’ clerks should promote counsel who have an interest and expertise in criminal law to OPP Briefings staff.

+As a private barrister, what remuneration can I expect from the OPP for a particular hearing?

The Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) pays a set daily fee for all appearances. Where a preparation fee is relevant, this fee is set out in the contract as a separate lump-sum figure. See Briefing Fee Schedule in this website.

+What hearings do OPP Solicitor Advocates prosecute?

OPP Solicitor Advocates prosecute all hearing types as per the OPP Advocacy Hearing Framework.

Appeals

+Am I entitled to receive a copy of the grounds of appeal in my case, and the judgment of the Court of Appeal?

Yes you are entitled to receive a copy of both the grounds of appeal in your case and the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

+Can the judge give the appellant a higher sentence than the one received in the Magistrates' Court?

Yes, a County Court judge can impose any sentence that the Magistrates’ Court could have imposed. However, before a judge increases a sentence they usually give a ‘warning’ to the appellant that they are considering an increase. More often than not, appellants will abandon an appeal before the court has an opportunity to increase a sentence.

+Can you abandon an appeal during the hearing?

Yes, you can abandon an appeal before being sentenced.

+Can you lodge an appeal after being found guilty but before being sentenced?

No. An appeal can only be lodged after someone is sentenced. An appellant has 28 days from the date of sentence to lodge an appeal.

+Does filing a Notice of Appeal in the Supreme Court stay any penalty or sentence imposed by a Magistrate pending the hearing of the appeal?

No. The Notice of Appeal does no more than create a Supreme Court file. A Summons for Directions and an Affidavit in Support must be filed. The Directions Hearing will be before an Associate Judge who will fix a timetable for filing further documents, including outlines of Submissions and Court Books. The Associate Judge has the power to order a stay of the Magistrates’ Court’s orders until determination of the appeal.

+How long do appeals to the Court of Appeal take to be heard?

Approximately half a day for an appeal against sentence; approximately one to two days for an appeal against sentence and conviction, but some appeals take longer.

+How long do County Court appeals take to be heard?

Approximately one hour for an appeal against sentence; approximately one day for an appeal against sentence and conviction, but many appeals take longer.

+I made a Victim Impact Statement for the County Court hearing. Will the judges hearing the application or appeal have a copy of that or do I have to make another Victim Impact Statement?

The judges hearing the application or appeal will have a copy of your Victim Impact Statement. Judges hearing applications or appeals are provided with a Court Book which contains copies of exhibits tendered in the County Court, including Victim Impact Statements.

+If I am subpoenaed do I have to attend court?

Yes, if you receive a subpoena you should attend court on the date indicated on the document. You should contact the Office of Public Prosecutions solicitor or police informant to confirm attendance arrangements.

+If the appellant is successful in their appeal, does the complainant have to pay costs?

No. An appellant may make an application for costs in limited circumstances, including if an appeal against conviction is successful, where a Director’s appeal against sentence is unsuccessful, or where an appeal is adjourned for a reason not caused by the appellant. However, the complainant does not have to pay these costs.

+If the appellant loses their appeal to the County Court, can the appellant appeal the County Court sentence?

If an appellant loses their appeal against sentence, there is no further avenue of appeal, except an appeal on a point of law.  (See the material relating to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appeals in the civil jurisdiction, in this website.)

+What area of criminal law do Appeals solicitors specialise in?

Appeals work covers a huge array of criminal law: drugs and sex, minor summary offences and murder, as well as legal issues about the effect of Commonwealth criminal legislation on Victorian law, the admissibility of evidence, the effect of new Victorian legislation on the Common Law and more.

+What is a 'de novo' hearing?

De novo is a Latin term that means ‘from the beginning’. County Court appeals are called ‘de-novo’ hearings because the County Court re-hears the matter from the beginning – that is, the evidence in support of the Magistrates’ Court charges and the legal submissions relevant to those charges are all heard again in the County Court.

+When a Supreme Court Appeal on a Question of Law is allowed, can the Judge dismiss the charge or re-sentence?

The usual outcome of a sucessful Supreme Court appeal on a Question of Law is that the charge is remitted back to the Magistrate for hearing and determination according to law. On occasions where it can be concluded that the error of law is such that it cannot be rectified, the Supreme Court may order that the charge be dismissed.

+Will I have to give evidence at the Court of Appeal?

An appeal to the Court of Appeal is not a re-hearing of the matter, therefore victims or witnesses are not required to give evidence. Evidence relied on at a trial or plea will be available to the appeal court.

+Will the judge(s) in the Court of Appeal give their decision on the day?

The judge(s) sometimes give their decision on the day, but it is not uncommon for a decision to be reserved. This means they need some time to consider the arguments and prepare the judgment, which may take days, weeks or even months.

Policy and Advice

+Can the Policy and Advice Directorate provide legal advice to members of the general public?

No – Policy and Advice only provides legal advice to the public prosecutions service and external agencies that have power to investigate or prosecute criminal offences.

+Does the DPP have the power to investigate crimes?

No – the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) does not have any investigative powers under Part 4 of the Public Prosecutions Act 1994. Requests for the Office of Public Prosecutions to investigate an alleged crime will be referred to Victoria Police or the appropriate investigative agency.

+How do I make a complaint about an aspect of an investigation or prosecution?

If you are dissatisfied with some aspect of a case or matter, you should direct your concerns in the first instance to: the Community Liaison Officer, Office of Public Prosecutions, PO Box 13085, Melbourne 8010, or email to communityliaison@opp.vic.gov.au

+How do I make a Freedom of Information request?

To make a request for access to documents: Write to the Freedom of Information Officer, Office of Public Prosecutions, PO Box 13085 Melbourne 8010, or email to foi@opp.vic.gov.au.

State that you make your request under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Provide enough information describing the documents sought as is reasonably necessary to enable the FOI Officer to identify them. Include the application fee (currently $27.90) or provide reasons why the fee should be waived, for example, financial hardship.

For further information, please see the policy ‘Applications made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982’, or email foi@opp.vic.gov.au with your enquiry.
 

+What are the DPP’s Prosecutions Policies?

The Director of Public Prosecutions' (DPP) Prosecutions Policies are published to provide guidance to the public prosecutions service and counsel engaged by the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP). They set out the DPP's policy position on a wide range of significant and complex legal issues that are relevant to the criminal law practice of the OPP.  A number of these policies can be viewed under the ‘Resources’ section of this website.

Principal Prosecutions

+Can I have a copy of my statement?

Yes. If you don't have a copy of your statement you can ask the Office of Public Prosecutions' (OPP) solicitor or police informant for a copy of your statement. You should read it carefully before giving evidence and tell the OPP solicitor if there are any errors or omissions.

Proceeds of Crime

+Can the DPP or State of Victoria sell restrained property in which the offender has an interest for the purpose of paying compensation or restitution to a victim of that person’s crime?

No, a victim is responsible for enforcing a compensation or restitution order made in their favour under the Sentencing Act 1991 using the civil recovery process, and should seek independent legal advice accordingly. The only exception to this is where the restrained property has been confiscated to the State of Victoria in reliance on the same offence which gave rise to the victim’s compensation or restitution order. Only in those circumstances can the State sell the property and distribute the proceeds to the victims in accordance with a specified formula.

+What is a pecuniary penalty order?

It is an order made by the court, on an application by the DPP, requiring the offender to pay a sum of money to the State of Victoria in an amount that is equal to the benefits obtained from the commission of their offence. An example of such ‘benefits’ is money actually received by the offender as a result of the commission of their offence. Penalty interest is payable on a pecuniary penalty order until the debt is paid in full to the Department of Justice. An offender’s property may be restrained by the DPP for the purpose of securing payment of a possible pecuniary penalty order. 

+What happens when a court makes a restraining order over property?

 

Property that is the subject of a restraining order can not be disposed of, or otherwise dealt with, by any person except in the manner and circumstances (if any) specified in the restraining order, or unless and until the court orders otherwise. The Confiscation Act 1997 imposes strict time limits on persons wishing to make exclusion applications to defend their property interests. The OPP cannot give legal advice in relation to these legal matters.   

+What happens if property is forfeited (confiscated)?

 

When property is forfeited under the Confiscation Act 1997, ownership vests in the Attorney-General of Victoria. Steps are then taken by the Department of Justice to sell that property. Funds realised from the sale of forfeited property are paid to the State’s Consolidated Revenue Fund. There are limited circumstances under that Act in which a person may make an exclusion application to the court in relation to the forfeited property. The OPP cannot give legal advice in relation to these legal matters. 

Regional Prosecutions

+Does one solicitor look after my matter from start to finish?

Not necessarily. Listing practices in regional courts, and resources, do not always allow for matters to be dealt with by the same solicitor from start to finish. Regional Prosecutions has dedicated preparation solicitors and solicitors who travel to circuits.

+I am a witness, how do I know what date to attend court?

In County Court or Supreme Court trials witnesses receive a subpoena to attend court on a certain date. However, due to listing practices in regional courts this is usually the first date in a sitting, which may contain many matters, as few matters get a fixed date for hearing in the country. Rather the system operates like a queue and you have to wait for your turn. Witnesses should wait to be personally contacted by the police informant with confirmation of the date they should attend court. If you have not heard from the police informant by the date on your subpoena YOU should contact the police informant.

Witnesses and Victims

+How much can I claim?

You can claim expenses to cover travel to and from court, less conduct money, meals and  loss of income, in accordance with the amount fixed by legislation.

+Am I entitled to receive a copy of the grounds of appeal in my case, and the judgment of the Court of Appeal?

Yes you are entitles to receive a copy of both the grounds of appeal in your case and the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

+Can I ask for a female interpreter?

Yes – you are able to request a female interpreter. Any specific requirements you have regarding interpreters should be discussed with the police informant or the Office of Public Prosecutions' Witness Assistance Service. However, a female interpreter cannot be guaranteed.

+Can I be present for the verdict?

If you want to be there for the verdict, you should  tell either the police informant or the Office of Public Prosecutions' solicitor and they will let you know.  If you are not able to be present for the verdict, you can arrange for someone from the prosecution team to let you know what it is.

+Can I bring someone I know to be my interpreter?

Any interpreter being used needs to be approved by the court. It is best to organise for an interpreter through either the police informant or the Office of Public Prosecutions’ Witness Assistance Service.

+Can I claim expenses for going to court?

Yes – if you have been served with a summons or subpoena, you can make a claim to help pay for the costs of going to court. Expenses are paid at a rate set by legislation.

+Can I discuss my evidence at a conference?

You are NOT able to discuss the details of the evidence you are going to give at a conference.

+Can I find out information about the offender while they are in prison?

Yes. If you are the victim of a violent crime and the offender is found guilty and imprisoned, you can find out their earliest possible release date, possible parole dates and the actual release date. If you want this information you will need to fill out an application form to be put on the Victims’ Register.

+Can I get compensation from the offender?

In certain circumstances you may be able to apply for compensation from the offender or take separate legal action against the offender. Both options involve complex legal processes.  You should consider whether the offender will be able to pay the compensation and the cost to you if they refuse to pay compensation or if you decide to take civil action against them. The Office of Public Prosecutions cannot represent you in any compensation action.

+Can I make a submission to the Adult Parole Board?

Yes – you can make a submission to the Adult Parole Board. If you are on the Victims’ Register, you will be given information about how and when you can do this.

+Can I read out my Victim Impact Statement in court?

Yes – you have the right to read out your Victim Impact Statement to the judge and the court. Alternatively, you can ask the prosecutor, a family member or a representative to read it out. See also the Vcitim

+Can I refer to my statement when I am giving evidence?

No – you are not able to refer to your statement when you are giving evidence. It is a good idea to read over your statement carefully so you remember what you told police at the time you made your statement.

+Can the DPP appeal against a not-guilty verdict?

The DPP is NOT able to appeal against a not guilty verdict. The DPP can only appeal against the length of a sentence if it is considered to be ‘manifestly inadequate’. The offender can appeal against their conviction (guilty verdict) and/or the length of the sentence.

+Do I have to give evidence at the committal hearing?

Not all witnesses who make a statement are required to appear in person to give evidence at the committal hearing. Their statement will be included in the brief of evidence which is given to the magistrate. If you have any concerns about whether or not you need to go to court, you should contact the police informant or the Witness Assistance Service. If you are required at court you will receive a summons.

+Do I have to give evidence in the courtroom?

Generally, you are required to give evidence from the courtroom. If you are a victim of sexual assault or family violence, a child or have a cognitive impairment, you may be able to give evidence away from the court in a remote witness facility.  You should discuss this option with the police informant, Office of Public Prosecutions’ solicitor or Witness Assistance Service.

+Do I have to go to the appeal hearing?

No, However you are able to go to the appeal hearing if you want to. Appeal hearings are very different to trial hearings. Appeals involve legal and technical discussions on the law.

+Do I have to go to the plea hearing?

No. It is your choice whether or not you go to the plea hearing. If you have made a Victim Impact Statement and would like to read it out to the court, you will need to be there on the day of the hearing to do this. You are not obliged to stay in the court once you have finished reading your Victim Impact Statement.

+Do I have to make a Victim Impact Statement?

It is your choice whether or not to make a Victim Impact Statement. If you do not make a Victim Impact Statement, the judge or magistrate will still consider the impact of the crime one you. This will be through evidence given at the trial or information provided by the prosecutor at the plea hearing.

+Do I have to pay for an interpreter?

No – you do not have to pay for the interpreter. This is a free service to you.

+Does the accused have to give evidence?

No – the accused person is not required to give evidence. However, they are able to give evidence if they choose to.

+Does the investigation have to be completed within a set time?

No. There is no set time for completing an investigation. In complex matters an investigation may take many months and sometimes longer than a year.

+How do I access support from a specialist family violence service?

There are a number of appropriate specialist services whose contact details are listed on the Additional Support Services page of this website. For instance the Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service, Immigrant Women's Domestic Violence Service, and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria.

+How do I apply for an Intervention Order?

You should contact your local Magistrates’ Court to make an appointment to apply for an Intervention Order.

+How do I apply for compensation from VOCAT?

You will need to get an application form from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) registrar at your local Magistrates’ Court. You may wish to get legal advice before you complete your application form. You can also discuss any questions you have with the VOCAT registrar.

+How do I find out whether the accused person has been granted bail?

You should contact the police informant if you want to be notified about the outcome of any bail hearing and relevant bail conditions of the accused.

+How do I make a claim for witness expenses?

You will need to fill out a witness expense form. If you have been to the Magistrates’ Court, the police informant will give you a Witness Expense Form to fill out. If you have been to the County or Supreme Court, the Office of Public Prosecutions’ solicitor will give you a Witness Expense Claim Form.

+How do I make a complaint under the Victims’ Charter?

You can make a complaint by contacting the Victims’ Charter Enquires and Complaints Line on 1800 118 728.  If your complaint relates to the Office of Public Prosecutions, you can call on 1800 180 587 or email at communityliaison@opp.vic.gov.au

+How do I make a Victim Impact Statement?

Your Victim Impact Statement needs to be in the form of a statutory declaration.  There is a Guide to Victims Impact Statements which explains the process in detail and includes a form which you can fill out (see the link on the Victim Impact Statement page to download the guide).

+How long do Court of Appeal appeals take to be heard?

Approximately half a day for an appeal against sentence; approximately one to two days for an appeal against sentence and conviction, but some appeals take longer.

+How long does it take for the jury to consider its verdict?

There is no set time for the jury to make its decision. It can take from hours to a number of days.

+How long does the entire appeals process take?

The Court of Appeal has introduced reforms which aim to finalise sentence appeals within 6–8 months and conviction appeals within 8–10 months. However, it is not uncommon for the appeal process to take longer, particularly, when the issues are complex.

+How long will it take to give evidence?

How long it takes to give evidence will depend on the matter and the evidence you are to give. This is something you should discuss with the police informant or Office of Public Prosecutions’ solicitor.

+How will I know if I am required to come to court as a witness?

If you are required to come to court and give evidence as a witness you will be sent an official notice called a summons (in the Magistrates’ Court) or a subpoena (in the County or Supreme Courts). The summons or subpoena will tell you where and when the matter is going to be heard.

+How will I know when I am needed at court?

Someone from the prosecution team – the police informant, solicitor or WAS worker – will tell you when you will be needed at court. They will also do their best to let you know if a hearing has been adjourned.

+How will I know where to go to give evidence?

If you have not already made arrangements with the police informant about giving evidence, you will need to: check the daily court list in the foyer of the court, find the name of the person on trial, note down the number of the court room where you are required, and then wait for the police informant to meet you there.

+I am a victim of sexual assault. Is there a specialist service I can access for support?

You can contact the Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) services, which are located across Victoria on 1800 806 292.

+If I get a summons or subpoena do I have to come to court?

Yes. If you receive a summons or subpoena, you MUST come to court.

+If I think the sentence is not high enough, can I ask the DPP to appeal?

If you think that the original sentence given by the judge is too lenient, you can ask the DPP to appeal. You need to set out your reasons in writing as soon as possible as the DPP only has 28 days to lodge an appeal.  The DPP can only appeal where the sentence is considered to be manifestly inadequate.

+If the magistrate decides there is not enough evidence for the case to go to trial, is that the end of the matter?

Not always. The Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) will review all of these cases and in some instances the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) may decide to take the accused person to trial anyway.

+Is there childcare at court?

There are NO childcare facilities at any of the courts so you will need to organise someone to look after any children in your care while you are at court.

+The case has been listed for hearing in a particular circuit sitting. When will it be heard?

Although the case may be listed for hearing during a particular sitting, it may not go ahead during that time. There will be several matters listed and the judge can only hear one matter at a time. If your matter is not heard during this time it will be postponed to the next sitting date in your region. 

+What can I include in my Victim Impact Statement?

Generally your Victim Impact Statement should describe how the crime has affected you, for example physical injuries, emotional trauma or financial loss. You may be able to include pictures, photos, poems, paintings or DVDs in your Victim Impact Statement. There is a Guide to Victims Impact Statements which explains the process in detail and includes a form which you can fill out (see the link on the Victim Impact Statement page to download the guide).

+What do I do if the accused person has tried to contact me when it is a condition of their bail that they do not contact the victim?

If you believe that the accused person has breached any of their bail conditions you should contact the police informant immediately.

+What does the judge take into account when sentencing?

The judge has to take a number of things into account when deciding on the sentence. These include the impact of the crime on the victim/s; the seriousness of the crime; the circumstances of the offender; their past criminal history; whether they pleaded guilty; and other sentences for comparable crimes.

+What happens at a conference?

At a conference you will generally meet with the Office of Public Prosections’ (OPP) solicitor, the Witness Assistance Service (WAS) social worker and possibly the police informant and the prosecutor. They will give you information and answer any questions you have about the court process.

+What happens at the plea hearing?

At the plea hearing, the prosecution and the defence will present information they want the judge to take into account when deciding on the sentence.

+What happens if the court hearing is delayed (adjourned)?

If the court hearing is adjourned you will be required to come back at a later date.  This can be frustrating and stressful for victims so the prosecution team will make every effort to let you know the new hearing date.

+What if I need counselling or other support?

The Witness Assistance Service (WAS) does not provide counselling. WAS will, however, be able to refer you to an appropriate and relevant support service.

+What is a sentencing hearing?

At the sentencing hearing the judge will tell the offender what their sentence is.

+What is the purpose of the trial?

The purpose of the trial is for the prosecution and the defence to present all relevant evidence to the jury, who will decide whether or not the accused person is guilty of the crime.

+What is the trial?

The trial is the main court hearing before a judge and jury.

+What is the Victims’ Charter?

The Victims’ Charter is contained in legislation called the Victims’ Charter Act 2006. The charter sets out 12 principles about how you should be treated as a victim of crime by criminal justice agencies, such as the police and Office of Public Prosecutions

+What is the Witness Assistance Service?

The Witness Assistance Service (WAS) provides information and support to victims of serious crimes who are going through the prosecution process. This includes giving you information about the progress of the matter; giving you information about the prosecution process; explaining what you can expect at court hearings; assisting you with arrangements if you need, or want, to be in court; and referring you to other support services if you need them.

+What is the Witness Protection Program?

The Witness Protection Program is run by the Victoria Police Witness Security Unit.  The Witness Security Unit can take any action necessary to protect the safety and welfare of a witness, their partner or a family member.  You can contact the Witness Security Unit for more information and to find out whether you are eligible on 9247 5615.

+What should I do if I am concerned about my safety at court?

If you have any concerns about your safety while at court, you should speak to the police informant, Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) solicitor or Witness Assistance Service (WAS) worker.

+What should I do if I am concerned about my safety when I come to court to give evidence?

If you have any concerns for your safety, in relation to coming to court to give evidence, you should contact the police informant or the Witness Assistance Service.  They will be able to discuss arrangements with you for giving evidence.

+What should I do if I need to take a break when I am giving evidence?

It is OK to take a break when you are giving evidence. You just need to ask the judge.

+What sort of special arrangements can be made for giving evidence?

Special arrangements include giving evidence from another location by closed-circuit television (CCTV); using screens in the courtroom to ensure that the accused person is not visible; allowing a support person to be present when giving evidence;  and closing the courtroom to the general public.

+What times do the courts hear matters?

The courts generally hear matters from 10:00am until 4:15pm with a lunch break between 1:00pm and 2:00pm.

+When are conferences held?

Conferences can be held prior to or after any significant developments in the legal case. This includes the committal hearing, the trial, the plea hearing, the sentence hearing or the appeal hearing.

+When will the court be ‘sitting’ in my region?

Judges from the County and Supreme Courts hear matters in regional courts for about four weeks at a time at various times during the year. These are called court ‘sittings’. Some regional courts have more sittings than others. You can contact the Office of Public Prosecutions’ solicitor or the Witness Assistance Service for information about when the court is hearing cases in your region.

+Where can I get a copy of Taking the Next Step: A Guide to the Victorian court system for bereaved families?

You can contact the Office of Public Prosecutions’ Witness Assistance Service and they can arrange for a copy to be sent to you. Alternatively, you can access the booklet online via the Publications page of this website.

+Where do I get support if I am required to give evidence?

If you are a victim of sexual assault or family violence you can contact the Office of Public Prosecutions’ Witness Assistance Service to discuss your support needs while in court. This includes making alternative arrangements for giving evidence.

+Where do I go for support if I am a victim of sexual assault or family violence?

There are specialist support services for victims of sexual assault and family violence. You can access these on the Support Services page of this website.

+Where do I go if I am a victim of crime and need counselling support?

You can contact the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817 for information, support and referral to an appropriate counselling service. You can also find support services infomation on the Additional Support Services page of this website.

+Where will the matter be heard?

Generally courts will hear matters in the geographic location where the crime occurred. If you want more information about where the matter will be heard, you can contact the police informant, Office of Prosecutions’ solicitor or Witness Assistance Service worker.

+Who can help me cope with the effects of the crime?

There are a number of specialist support services available to victims of crime.  You can access the contact details on the Additional Support Services page of this website.

+Who can help victims and witnesses through the prosecution process?

The Witness Assistance Service (WAS) social workers provide support to victims, witnesses and family members during the court process. The service is part of the Victims’ Strategy and Services Directorate of the Office of Public Prosecutions and is located at 565 Lonsdale St Melbourne.

+Is there a service to support children who are witnesses in criminal proceedings?

The Child Witness Service is a specialist service for children and young people who are witnesses in criminal proceedings. The service provides information and support to children and their families about the prosecution process.

+Where can I go if I need additional support?

If you need additional support, you can contact the Victims of Crime Helpline.  The Helpline is a free and confidential service, staffed by trained victim-support officers, providing information and referral to specialist support services.

+Who can make use of alternative arrangements when giving evidence?

If you are a victim of sexual assault you are entitled to make use of alternative arrangements for giving evidence. If you are a victim of family violence you may be able to make use of these alternative arrangements.

+Who can support me at court?

If you have a family member or friend who can support you, you can bring them with you to court, but not if they are a witness in the matter. Alternatively, you can contact the Witness Assistance Service (WAS) at the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) to discuss your support needs for the time you are in court.

+Who can support me through the court process?

The Witness Assistance Service at the Office of Public Prosecutions can support victims and witnesses through the court process. You can access the contact details on the Witness Assistance Service page of this website.

+Who can support me when I am giving evidence?

The Witness Assistance Service (WAS) can arrange support for you while you are giving evidence. Alternatively, Court Network can provide you with support while you are giving evidence. You are allowed to have a support person with you in court.  If your support person is also a witness in the case, they are not able to support you while you are giving evidence. It is important not to discuss your evidence with any other witnesses.

+Who do I ask if I need an interpreter?

If you need an interpreter, you should speak to the police informant, the Office of Public Prosecutions' (OPP) solicitor or Witness Assistance Service.

+Who do I tell if I don’t want my address read out in court?

If you do not want your address read out in court, you should tell the police informant or the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) solicitor.

+Who is responsible for investigating crime?

It is the role of Victoria Police to investigate crime in Victoria.

+Why is the maximum penalty rarely given?

It is very rare for the maximum penalty to be given. Maximum terms are legislated by the parliament and used by the courts as a reference point when sentencing. This means that judges can impose a sentence that is up to, but not exceeding, the maximum penalty. In accordance with the law, the sentence needs to be consistent with other sentences given in similar cases.

+Will my views be taken into account by the judge when deciding on bail?

Yes. The judge can take into account your views about whether or not the accused person should get bail. If you have any concerns about the accused being granted bail, you should contact the police informant as soon as possible after the accused person is charged.

+Will someone tell me if the offender is released from prison?

If you are on the Victims Register, you will be told when the offender is being released from prison.

+Will the judge(s) give their decision on the day?

The judge(s) sometimes give their decision on the day, but it is not uncommon for a decision to be reserved. This means they need some time to consider the arguments and prepare the judgment, which may take days, weeks or even months.

+Will the offender be able to read my Victim Impact Statement?

Yes – a copy of your Victim Impact Statement will be given to the judge, the prosecutor and the defence counsel. The offender and their lawyer are also able to read your Victim Impact Statement.

+Will the offender be sentenced on the same day?

Generally the judge will hand down the sentence at a separate hearing called the sentence hearing, which is held after the plea hearing. Occasionally, the judge may sentence on the same day, particularly if the matter is being heard on ‘circuit’ in a regional court.

Specialist Sexual Offences Unit

+What special arrangements can be made for child or cognitively impaired victims of sexual assault to give evidence in court?

Special arrangements for child or cognitively impaired victims giving evidence include giving evidence from another location by closed-circuit television (CCTV); using screens in the courtroom to ensure that the accused person is not visible; allowing a support person to be present when giving evidence; and closing the courtroom to the general public.

+How quickly are sexual assault matters listed in court?

Adult complainant committals usually take place within six months of the charges being filed. Child or cognitively impaired complainant committals usually occur within five months of the charges being filed. Trials in adult matters usually take place within about nine months after the committal hearing. Trials in child or cognitively impaired complainant matters take place within three months of the committal hearing.

+What special arrangements can be made for adult victims of sexual assault to give evidence in court?

Special arrangements for adult victims giving evidence include giving evidence from another location by closed-circuit television (CCTV); using screens in the courtroom to ensure that the accused person is not visible; allowing a support person to be present when giving evidence; and closing the courtroom to the general public.

+Do victims of sexual assault have to give evidence, if the matter goes to court?

Because of the nature of these offences, it would be extremely unusual for a victim to not give evidence if the accused is challenging the charge/s.

In matters involving serious allegations of sexual assault such as rape or sexual penetration, adult complainants may be required to give evidence both at a committal hearing in the Magistrates' Court and also later at a trial hearing in the County Court or Supreme Court. Child complainants (aged under 18 at the time charges are filed) and cognitively impaired complainants do not give evidence at a committal hearing but may be required to give evidence as part of a trial hearing in the County Court.

Careers

+What flexible benefits does the OPP offer staff?

Dependant on the position, the Office of public Prosecutions offers a number of flexible benefits based around work–life balance. You can find more information about these on the ‘Benefits/Terms and Conditions’ page of this website.

+What opportunities are there for promotion?

The Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) has a great pathway for solicitors wanting to start or continue their careers. Internal opportunities, as well as advertised positions are open to suitably qualified internal applicants. You can find more information about the various roles within the OPP on the ‘Our roles’ page of this website.
 

+How can I get a job at the OPP?

All positions at the OPP that are advertised externally can be found on the Victorian State Government’s Careers website. We strongly recommend registering for job alerts via this website, and regular checking online.

+Can I volunteer at the OPP?

The OPP is unable to provide opportunities for law students to volunteer within the organisation, however we do offer a structured work experience program. You can find more information on the 'Current Opportunities' section of the website

If you are looking for opportunities to volunteer we recommend that you contact a community legal centre (CLC). The Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic) can provide you with information on CLCs in Victoria.

+I have been working with a defence firm; can I now work with the OPP?

Yes, absolutely. The Office of Public Prosecutions accepts applications from suitably qualified candidates whatever their experience may be within the legal profession. There are a number of reasons that people come to work with the OPP, but an alignment to our core values is always a common bond. We have employed many solicitors who have previously worked in defence criminal law practices.

+How do I address Key Selection Criteria?

Simply write a paragraph or two about your relevant experience and skills to meet each key selection criteria. Please also ensure you complete a cover letter, and attach a resume with two referees, to ensure your application is considered.

+How long does the recruitment process take?

It can vary, but generally we interview and offer within 2–4 weeks of the advertised closing date.