FAQs about people in the courtroom

Is the Commonwealth prosecutor my lawyer?

No. CDPP lawyers don’t represent individuals. They are employed as public servants by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute its cases. 

What is the role of investigators?

The investigator is the person who looks into whether someone has broken the law. A common example of an investigator would be a police officer. However investigators can also be from government departments. For example the Australian Taxation Office, Department of Human Services or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

If you are a witness or victim, the investigator will be the person who originally took your statement. They are responsible for collecting all the evidence to prove a crime has been committed. This includes your statement, which, together with other materials, is given to the CDPP in a brief of evidence.

What is the role of the defence lawyer?

The defence lawyer represents the person charged with committing the crime (this person is usually referred to as the defendant or accused). Lawyers may also be referred to as solicitors or barristers.

Who will be in court?

Courtrooms can be busy places! To help you work out who’s who, watch our video. Not every courtroom will look like this, for example not all will have a jury, but it will give you a good idea of what to expect.

What is the role of the judge or magistrate?

In the district, county and supreme courts, the person in charge of proceedings is called a judge. In the local or magistrates’ court, the person in charge is called a magistrate.

Judges and magistrates make sure everything that happens in court is done properly and according to the law. They make all decisions regarding the law, and decide what the sentence should be if someone is found guilty.

  • In the local or magistrates’ court a committal hearing is used to decide whether there is enough evidence for the accused to be tried in a Supreme, County or District court.
Who can support me in court?

Going to court can be stressful and challenging. Think about asking a friend or family member, a professional person such as a counsellor, or a trained volunteer, to come with you to the hearing and provide support.

In some cases, the CDPP Witness Assistance Service may be able to help arrange court support for you.