There is an old Finnish saying "Käy päälle kuin yleinen syyttäjä" (”attacks like a prosecutor”). However, the picture thus presented of the work of a modern prosecutor is much too bleak.
It is the task of the prosecutor to see to it that an offender bears the responsibility for the criminal act. At the same time, however, the prosecutor must make sure that no one is charged or convicted without lawful grounds. To bring charges ”just to be on the safe side” is not acceptable. If a charge cannot be brought, the prosecutor must make an explicit decision not to prosecute.
A prosecutor must be objective; he or she must always take balanced note also of the proof presented in favour of a suspected criminal, or ”contrary proof”. In addition, the prosecutor must work with dispatch and with economy.
A prosecutor is independent in his or her decision-making. In any given case, he or she cannot and must not accept instructions or orders from anyone. Hence e.g. the opinion of the police as to who has committed an offence is not binding on the prosecutor.
Chief district prosecutors are heading the local prosecutor´s offices. Additionally there are deputy chiefs and district prosecutors.
Some prosecution units have junior prosecutors, who are in training for prosecutorial duties.
All of the above are general prosecutors, as they are competent to bring charges for all criminal offences committed within their jurisdiction, with some rare exceptions. There are also special prosecutors, such as the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice, who are competent to bring charges only in given, clearly defined special cases.
Public prosecutor in turn, refers to the public service function of the prosecutors; unlike the other parties to a criminal case, the prosecutor does not act in his or her own interest, but instead on the behalf of the society, looking after its interests.
Prosecution as a profession
Prosecutor front page
Updated on 7 July 2009