Investigation and prosecution of sexual crime: follow-up review

Follow up to HM Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland's 2017 review of the investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes

Appendix 3: Key terms

Accused: Person charged with committing a crime.

Advocates Depute: Advocates Depute are prosecutors appointed by the Lord Advocate. Advocates Depute prosecute all cases in the High Court.

Bail: The release from custody of an accused person until the trial or next court hearing.

Bail conditions: Conditions imposed by the Court on the accused usually designed to protect victims and the public.

Case preparer: Members of staff who interview witnesses and prepare cases for court in solemn proceeding.

Charge: The crime that the accused person is suspected of having committed.

Committal for Further Examination (CFE)/Appear on Petition: First appearance of an accused at court in solemn matters.

Crown Counsel: Collective term for the Law Officers (Lord Advocate and Solicitor General) and Advocates Deputes.

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS): The independent public prosecution service in Scotland. It is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland. It is also responsible for the investigation of sudden, unexplained or suspicious deaths and the investigation of allegations of criminal conduct against police officers

Evidence by Commissioner Hearing: Where a lawyer, judge, sheriff or other suitable person hears evidence at a different time or place to the actual court case. The evidence can then be used during the court case.

Full Committal (FC): The second appearance in court for an accused who was remanded in custody at a committal for further examination. It takes place in private. The accused will be granted bail or remanded in custody until the trial or until liberated in due course of law.

Indictment: Court document that sets out the charges the accused faces at trial in solemn proceedings.

Law Officers: The Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General. The Lord Advocate is the Ministerial Head of COPFS. He is the senior of the two Law Officers, the other being the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General is the Lord Advocate's deputy. She is also a Minister of the Scottish Government.

Petition: Formal document served on accused in solemn proceedings. It gives notice of charges being considered by the Procurator Fiscal.

Place on petition: Decision by prosecutor to commence solemn criminal proceedings.

Precognition: An interview of a witness by COPFS or a defence lawyer to help them find out more about a crime and prepare for a court case.

Preliminary hearing (PH): Procedural hearing in all High Court cases. The purpose is to adjudicate on the state of preparation of the defence and the prosecution and to resolve all outstanding issues prior to the trial commencing.

Procurators Fiscal (PFs): Legally qualified prosecutors who receive reports about crimes from the police and other agencies and make decisions on what action to take in the public interest and where appropriate prosecute cases.

Production: An item shown in court as evidence.

Solemn procedure: The procedure for the most serious crimes, with the most serious including murder, rape, or other serious sexual offences being dealt with in the High Court before a judge and jury.

Special measures: Different ways to help vulnerable witnesses, including all children, such as giving evidence from behind a screen in the courtroom or by a television link, or having a support person in court.

Trial: The legal action in a criminal court case.

Undertaking: The document signed by someone who has been arrested and released on police bail after promising to come to court at a later date and agreeing to certain conditions, such as not committing any other crimes

Victim Information and Advice: The COPFS service that offers assistance to some victims and witnesses

List of abbreviations:

1995 Act: The Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995

2009 Act: The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009

2020 Act: The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020



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