Even if there is enough evidence, the DPP must also decide if there is a public interest in prosecuting.
In considering the public interest, the DPP must take a number of factors into account, including the interests of the victim, the suspect and the wider community.
There is a clear public interest in making sure that the wrongdoer is prosecuted, convicted and punished when a crime is committed. The more serious the crime and the stronger the evidence, the more likely it is that it will be in the public interest to prosecute.
When assessing public interest, we consider factors such as:
- the seriousness of the crime;
- the impact on the victim;
- the age and personal circumstances of the victim and the suspect;
- the effect of the prosecution on the suspect and the victim;
- the risk of the suspect offending again;
- the alternatives to prosecution (if any).
Examples of two alternatives to prosecution are:
- the Adult Caution Scheme where, in certain cases, a person aged 18 or over may receive a caution from the Gardaí rather than be prosecuted; and
- the Juvenile Diversion Programme where a person under 18 receives a caution and may be supervised by the Gardaí for a period of time.
You can find more detailed information about public interest considerations in our Guidelines for Prosecutors.