U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Paralegal Police Prosecutor -- For How Long? (From Improving Access to Justice: The Future of Paralegal Professionals -- Conference Proceedings, 1990, Canberra, Australia, P 97-101, 1991, Julia Vernon and Francis Regan, eds. -- See NCJ-129734)

NCJ Number
J Murray
Date Published
5 pages
The level of intellectual and technical expertise demanded of police prosecutors has increased dramatically in recent years. If lawyers take over the role now assumed by police prosecutors, they should recognize the role of paralegals in summary courts.
There is no real distinction between legal duties performed by a police prosecutor and a legally qualified practitioner, but training for police prosecutors is inadequate. Nonetheless, some police prosecutors develop a proficiency equal to the most experienced lawyers despite their lack of higher education. In Australia, the police prosecution branch has become a less attractive assignment for three primary reasons: assessment and aptitude testing for initial police recruits is based on suitability as a patrol officer; prosecution is a "day job" with no extra pay for shift work; and prosecuting is the most difficult job in a police department. If the police prosecutorial role is to become independent of the police and staffed by paralegals, paralegals may be selected from existing police resources under the management of a separate legal head. Specific training is required for paralegals, however, and the skills and abilities of police prosecutors should be employed in some manner. Paralegals should be encouraged to participate in challenging aspects of the prosecutorial role and not just be left with simple clerical functions.