The Public Prosecution Service is one of the main parties involved in dealing with criminal cases. In the first place, it decides whether or not a case should be brought to court. If so, it is represented by one of its officers - a public prosecutor or an advocate general - who asks the court to impose an appropriate sanction. The Public Prosecution Service can also decide on how to deal with certain categories of petty crime without having to apply to the courts. It is responsible, too, for protecting the rights of both victims and offenders throughout the judicial process. To put it concisely, the Public Prosecution Service is responsible for maintaining the legal order.
The Public Prosecution Service is not a government department like, say, the Ministry of Defence or Social Affairs: together with the courts, it forms what is known as the judiciary, the authority responsible for the administration of justice. The Public Prosecution Service decides whether an offender must appear before the court and it prepares the indictment. It has sole discretion to decide whether a case should be prosecuted. The Department only works in the field of criminal law. It cannot arbitrate if someone has been wrongfully dismissed from their job. Nor can it intervene between quarrelling neighbours. Disputes of this kind are heard by the civil courts. The Public Prosecution Service can only take action if a criminal offence has been committed.