Appendix 2 – Key terms
1995 Act: Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995
2009 Act: Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009
Accused: person charged with committing a crime.
Advocate Depute: Advocate Deputes are prosecutors appointed by the Lord Advocate. Advocate Deputes prosecute all cases in the High Court and present appeals in the appeal court.
Case preparer: members of COPFS staff who interview witnesses and prepare cases for court in solemn proceedings.
Charge: the crime that the accused person is suspected of having committed.
Complainer: the person who made the allegation.
Crown Counsel: collective term for the Law Officers (Lord Advocate and Solicitor General) and Advocate Deputes.
Crown Counsel's instructions: instructions by Crown Counsel to prosecutors.
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS): the independent public prosecution service in Scotland. It is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crime, the investigation of sudden, unexplained or suspicious deaths, and the investigation of criminal allegations against the police. Also referred to in this report as 'the Crown'.
Dedicated floating trial: unlike summary trials, which are always fixed for a specific day, solemn jury trials in the High Court and Sheriff Court are often fixed as 'floating' trials, in the sense that they might start at some point within a range of days, in a particular court.
Docket: under section 288BA of the 1995 Act, a docket can be added to an indictment or complaint to give notice of an intention to lead evidence of a crime not libelled.
Evidence by Commissioner hearing: a hearing where a witness can give evidence at a different time or place than the actual trial. The witness is asked questions in the usual way but the evidence is recorded and will be played during the trial and will normally be regarded as the evidence of the witness.
First diet: a court hearing to establish the state of preparation of the prosecutor and defence for trial.
Indictment: court document that sets out the charges the accused faces at trial in solemn proceedings.
Investigative agreement: sets out a strategy for the investigation and preparation of a case. It sets out key matters relevant to the prosecution, including the charges to be investigated, how these will be proved, the parameters of the investigation and how the evidence will be presented.
Knowledge Bank: COPFS information database containing legal and non-legal guidance.
Law Officers: the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General.
Lord Advocate: Ministerial Head of COPFS. She is the senior of the two Law Officers, the other being the Solicitor General.
Marking: decision of action to be taken.
OI 2/19: Operational Instruction 2 of 2019 on the protection of witnesses from unfair or oppressive questioning.
OI 13/20: Operational Instruction 13 of 2020 on protecting witnesses in sexual offences cases – Section 275 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.
OI 2/21: Operational Instruction 2 of 2021 on section 275 applications for docket witnesses.
Pathway: the pathway document is an electronic 'living' document designed to record key milestones and the progress of a case in one place.
Petition: formal document served on accused in solemn proceedings. It gives notice of the charges being considered by the Procurator Fiscal.
Precognition: an interview of a witness by COPFS or a defence lawyer to help them find out more about a crime and prepare for a court case.
Preliminary hearing: procedural hearing in all High Court cases. The purpose is to adjudicate on the state of preparation of the defence and the prosecution and to resolve all outstanding issues prior to the trial commencing.
Procurator Fiscal: legally qualified prosecutor who receives reports about crimes from the police and other agencies and makes decisions on what action to take in the public interest and where appropriate prosecutes cases.
SCTS: Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service
SLM: solemn legal manager.
Section 275 application: an application made under section 275 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to lead evidence about a complainer's sexual history or character in a sexual offences trial.
Solemn proceedings: prosecution of serious criminal cases before a judge and a jury in the High Court or Sheriff Court.
Summary proceedings: prosecutions in the Sheriff or Justice of the Peace Court before a judge without a jury.
Trial diet: a court hearing where evidence is led before a judge and jury to determine if a person is guilty of a crime.
VIA: Victim Information and Advice Service (part of COPFS), which offers assistance to some victims and witnesses.