Procurator Fiscal


Procurator Fiscal

A procurator fiscal is the public prosecutor in Scotland, also carrying out functions broadly equivalent to the coroner in other legal systems.

For the majority of crimes in Scotland the procurators fiscal present cases for the prosecution in the Sheriff and District Courts, and the case for the defence is presented either by the accused, a solicitor or an advocate. The solicitor will work for a firm of solicitors, or in certain areas of Scotland could be a public defender.

The Procurator Fiscal has a great deal of discretion, but is always subject to the directions of Crown Office and the Lord Advocate.

Prosecution of crimes

The Procurator Fiscal makes preliminary investigations into criminal cases, takes written statements from witnesses (known as precognition) and is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crime. This includes the power to direct the police in their investigation, but except for serious crimes such as murder the police normally complete their enquiries before involving the procurator fiscal. In High Court cases, once someone has been charged with an offence and remanded in custody, the Crown must bring the case to a Preliminary Hearing within 110 days. A trial date will then be set which must commence by the 140th day. In Sheriff & Jury cases, the trial must commence by the 110th day. Otherwise, in serious cases (solemn procedure) the trial must commence within 12 months of the date of first appearance in court.

Deaths

As the local official concerned with suspicious and sudden deaths, the Procurator Fiscal is responsible for determining all causes of death within their jurisdictions. They do not hold inquests, but instead will direct police to undertake enquiries to determine if any crime has been committed, and if one has been committed, prosecute the offender. In certain circumstances, they conduct a Fatal Accident Inquiry to determine cause and culpability.

Serious crimes

For the most serious crimes, the case will not be directly prosecuted by the Procurator Fiscal. Instead, the case will be heard at the High Court of Justiciary and the prosecution will be made in the name of the Lord Advocate by an Advocate Depute.

Origins

The origin of the office is uncertain but, as the title suggests, the procurator fiscal may originally have been an officer of the sheriff with financial (fiscal) responsibilities. However, any such responsibilities had been eclipsed in the course of the eighteenth century by his duty as prosecutor in the sheriff court. In this capacity he gave concurrence in private prosecutions and prosecuted on behalf of the Crown. Until the end of the 18th century the fiscal was the sheriff's official and tenure of the office was at the pleasure of the sheriff, but with the decline of private prosecution the fiscal came to be regarded more and more as under the control of the Lord Advocate. From 1776 the government started to pay procurators fiscal to take precognitions and in 1907 the right of appointing procurators fiscal was transferred to the Lord Advocate.

External links

* [http://www.crownoffice.gov.uk/ Official website]


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • procurator fiscal — UK [ˌprɒkjʊreɪtə(r) ˈfɪsk(ə)l] / US [ˌprɑkjureɪtə ˈfɪsk(ə)l] noun [countable] Word forms procurator fiscal : singular procurator fiscal plural procurator fiscals British in Scotland, a lawyer who works for the government and whose job is to… …   English dictionary

  • procurator fiscal — procurators fiscal N COUNT: usu the N In the Scottish legal system, the procurator fiscal is a public official who puts people on trial …   English dictionary

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  • PROCURATOR-FISCAL —    is a Scottish law officer appointed by the sheriff, and irremovable on efficient and good behaviour, whose duties are to initiate the prosecution of crimes and inquire into deaths under suspicious circumstances …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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