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6 - Prosecutorial Discretion

from Part II - Criminal Procedure

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2022

Kai Ambos
Affiliation:
Judge Kosovo Specialist Chambers, The Hague
Antony Duff
Affiliation:
University of Stirling
Alexander Heinze
Affiliation:
Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, Germany
Julian Roberts
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
Thomas Weigend
Affiliation:
University of Cologne (Emeritus)
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Summary

Within the criminal justice system, the presence or absence of discretion is one of the most important determinants of whether or not the system secures justice for all parties and participants. The question is where justice lies on the spectrum running between criminal law by rules and criminal law by decision. Prosecutors in German and Anglo-American criminal law occupy distinctive roles, as decision-makers, due to both the institutional and normative framework, and the presence of both role duality and role ambiguity. Since prosecutorial discretion in the context of an investigation cannot be separated from police discretion, this chapter covers all discretionary decisions during the proceedings by prosecutors and the police. The chapter thus only deals with discretionary decisions of other agents (such as judicial discretion) from a conceptual perspective since the particular, constitutionally protected position of judges affects their discretion considerably. In the words of the German Constitutional Court: ‘Police forces and public prosecutors do not enjoy independence and cannot be expected – with regard to their investigatory powers and duties – to show the same strict neutrality as judges do.’

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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