The modern public prosecutor is a figure both powerful and enigmatic. Legal scholars and criminologists often identify “three essential components” of criminal justice systems: police, courts and corrections. Yet increasingly, the public prosecutor occupies a distinct role independent from any of these branches. Acting outside of the court, and therefore largely out of the public eye, the prosecutor’s control over whether and what charges proceed to court can limit judicial discretion on sentencing, open pathways to alternative measures and even deny entry into the criminal justice system entirely. In this sense the prosecutor serves as a true “gatekeeper” to the criminal process.

This book addresses key aspects of the evolving role of domestic and international prosecutors in common law and civil law systems in the twenty-first century, and the challenges posed by this evolution. This collection of chapters from respected scholars takes an international, comparative approach and explores how these different legal systems have borrowed theorisations and articulations of the prosecutorial role from each other in adapting the office to changing conditions and expectations. The volume is structured around four main themes relating to the role of the modern prosecutor: the nature of the prosecutor’s office, the role of the prosecutor in investigations, prosecutorial discretion and how it is exercised, and politicisation and accountability of prosecutors.

This book is essential for scholars and students in criminal justice, pre-law/legal studies, criminology, justice studies and political science, and is useful as a resource for those interested in legal change around the world.

Introduction - Philip Stenning, Victoria Colvin and Heather Douglas

Part One: The Office of the Modern Public Prosecutor

Chapter 1: Decoding Hegemony: Exploring the Discourse of a Prosecuting Elite - Robyn Holder

Chapter 2: New Public Management, Citizens’ Fears and Calls for Justice: The Prosecutor’s New Role in Italy - Cecilia Blengino

Chapter 3: Deferred Prosecution Agreements: Negotiating Punishment Before Conviction? - Simon Bronitt

Chapter 4: The Public Prosecution Service and the Structuring of Sentencing - the Nordic case of Denmark - Rasmus Wandall

Part Two: The role of prosecutors in investigations

Chapter 5: The Role of the Finnish Prosecutor in Preliminary Investigations – Efficiency or the End of Impartiality? - Julia Jansson

Chapter 6: Framing Prosecutor-Police Relations in Europe - A Concept Paper - Philip Stenning and Julia Jansson

Chapter 7: Police prosecution and access to justice for people with disabilities - Penelope Weller

Chapter 8: Roles of Lawyers and Investigators in Investigations of International Crimes - Melanie O’Brien

Part Three: The nature and extent of prosecutorial discretion

Chapter 9: The Riddle of Prosecutorial Discretion - Victoria Colvin

Chapter 10: Prosecuting Domestic Violence Cases: Listening to Victims - Heather Douglas

Chapter 11: Prosecutorial Discretion about Special Measure Use in Australian Cases of Child Sexual Abuse - Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Natalie Martschuk, Martine Powell and Nina Westera

Chapter 12: Community Prosecution Code Enforcement in Dallas, Texas: Effects on Serious Crime - John Worrall, Andrew Wheeler, and Justine Medrano

Part Four: Prosecutors, politics and accountability

Chapter 13: Prosecution and Politics in Germany: The Struggle for Independence - Michael Jasch

Chapter 14: Prosecutorial Independence and Effectiveness of the Nigerian Criminal Justice System - Adedeji Adekunle

Chapter 15: The Decision to Prosecute – The Accountability of Australian Prosecutors - Kellie Toole

Chpater 16: Regulating the Prosecutorial Role in Wrongful Convictions - Kent Roach

Conclusion - Victoria Colvin and Philip Stenning