Public Prosecution Service
or try  How Do I Find...


About Us:

PPS Independence

Role of the PPS

Did You Know:

The Criminal Case
Where to Find Us

News Releases


Crown Attorney Manual
- Prosecution and Administrative Policies for the PPS


Business Plans (Statements of Mandate):

2014-2015 (PDF)

2012-2013 (PDF)

2011-2012 (PDF)

2010-2011 (PDF)

2009-2010 (PDF)

2008-2009 (PDF)

2007-2008 (PDF)

Accountability Reports:

2010-2011 (PDF)

2009-2010 (PDF)

2008-2009 (PDF)


Annual Reports:

2009-2010 (PDF)

2008-2009 (PDF)

2007-2008 (PDF)

2006-2007 (PDF)

Statistics 2005-2006 (PDF)

Routine Access to Administrative & Operational Records Without a FOIPOP Application (PDF)

Accès courant aux dossiers administratifs et opérationnels sans présenter une demande en vertu de la loi FOIPOP (PDF)

PPS Privacy Policy (PDF)



The Role of the Public Prosecution Service

This page explains the role of the Public Prosecution Service.


Role of the PPS

The Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service prosecutes charges laid under the Criminal Code and under Nova Scotia statutes such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Picture of Lawyers MeetingCases are handled by lawyers called Crown Attorneys. About 80 Crown Attorneys across the province handle about 40,000 cases each year in Nova Scotia.

Back to top of page

The Crown Attorney's Job

Crown Attorneys are prosecutors. They are not investigators and do not lay criminal charges. Investigations are conducted by the police. The police decide whether to lay a charge. In some cases, Crown Attorneys are asked by police for advice on whether there is enough evidence to lay a charge. And, if so, whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction. But the police do not have to follow this advice. The decision to lay a charge rests with the police.

Picture of Lawyer with ChildAfter a charge is laid by the police, it is the Crown Attorney who decides whether the charge should go to trial. The Crown Attorney makes that decision by reviewing all of the evidence and deciding if there is a realistic prospect of conviction. Even when there is a realistic prospect of conviction, a Crown Attorney may decide not to go to trial if he or she believes it is not in the public interest. For example, the accused person may be elderly with no criminal record, the offence may be minor or the victim may not want to go ahead. In a case like this, the Crown Attorney may decide it's not in the public interest to prosecute.

Back to top of page

Seeking Justice: Conviction or Acquittal

When a matter goes to trial, the Crown Attorney's role is to present the evidence fairly. The Crown Attorney argues for the proper verdict based upon the evidence. The Crown Attorney is not aiming to "win" a conviction.

Picture of Child on Stand

Back to top of page

Responsibility to the Victim

When handling a prosecution, Crown Attorneys must represent the interests of the general public. The Crown Attorney is not the victim's lawyer. Picture of Lawyers ConsultingThere are times when the Crown Attorney must disagree with the wishes of an individual victim.

Crown Attorneys have a responsibility to treat victims of crime with compassion and respect. Often, Crown Attorneys call upon Victims' Services workers of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice. Crown Attorneys or Victims' Services workers explain the prosecution process to the victim. They prepare victims for court appearances and keep them informed of progress on the case.

Back to top of page

Appealing a Decision

Sometimes a verdict, a sentence or a special order made by a judge will be appealed by either the Crown or the accused. An appeal is a request to a higher court to change a decision made by a lower court.

The Crown may appeal a verdict of not guilty. The Crown may also appeal a sentence it believes does not fit the crime. The defence may appeal a verdict of guilty. It may also appeal a sentence it believes is too harsh.

Picture of Lawyers Discussing Appeal

Back to top of page

This page and all contents Crown copyright © 2003, Province of Nova Scotia, all rights reserved.
Comments to: /2003-Apr-23