There are many government bodies that deal with legal or law-related matters. The following are the most important, working directly within the legal sector.
Attorney-General of Victoria
Department of Justice and Regulation
Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of Public Prosecutions
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
Australian Federal Police
The Attorney-General of Victoria is the state government minister responsible for the legal system in Victoria, including all the Victorian courts and tribunals.
The Attorney-General is an elected member of the Victorian Parliament and is responsible for advising the government on improving the legal system. This includes providing advice on general government policy relating to the law and the courts, as well as recommendations for law reform. This practical work is carried out by the Department of Justice and Regulation, the department of the Victorian public service that provides advice and support to the Attorney-General.
The Department of Justice and Regulation is part of the Victorian public service. It is the key coordinating agency for the state’s justice system, including police, criminal prosecutions, prisons and community corrections services, and emergency services. The department also deals with racing and gaming and the provision of legal advice to the government.
The Department of Justice and Regulation is responsible for some dispute resolution services, such as those offered by Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.
The Department of Justice and Regulation is responsible to a number of Victorian government ministers.
The Office of Public Prosecutions is the independent statutory authority responsible for preparing and conducting criminal prosecutions in Victoria. It is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions who is responsible for prosecuting all indictable offences under Victorian law on behalf of the Crown in the High Court, the Supreme Court of Victoria and the County Court of Victoria.
Among the matters prosecuted by the Office of Public Prosecutions are:
- all murders
- corruption cases involving police or lawyers
- major sex offence cases
- major drug and fraud cases
- criminal appeals in the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
The Office of Public Prosecutions also supports the prosecution of serious offences by a range of other statutory authorities and state government departments.
The Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is an independent prosecuting service established by the federal parliament to prosecute alleged criminal offences against federal laws. These include the importing of drugs, frauds against the Commonwealth of Australia including tax and social security fraud, people smuggling and terrorism.
Victoria Police investigates and enforces traffic and criminal matters under state and federal legislation in Victoria. In some circumstances Victoria Police may also appear in court to prosecute breaches of Victorian law.
There are over three hundred police stations in Victoria. Many of these stations are open 24 hours a day.
The Australian Federal Police enforces Commonwealth criminal law (criminal laws developed by the federal government) and protects Australia’s interests from crime in Australia and overseas. It works closely with Victoria Police and other state, national and international law-enforcement bodies.
Matters investigated and prosecuted include terrorism, drug trafficking, people smuggling, high-tech crime involving information technology and communications, and money laundering.