Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What are the tasks and responsibilities of the Prosecution Service?
The Prosecution Service is part of the judicatory.
The Prosecution Service supervises the legality of the investigations, and has the exclusive right to file indictments to the court. It is the right and responsibility of the Prosecution Service to decide which criminal cases should be brought before the court. The Prosecution Service represents the State, and the demand of the State that perpetrators shell receive punishment.
Protecting the public interest is one of the functions of the Prosecution Service. For this reason, Prosecution Service plays an unavoidable role outside of criminal procedures as well. The Prosecution Service supervises the legality of the enforcement of punishments and also acts in case of misdemeanors, administrative and civil law infringements, especially if the rights of children and juveniles, consumers and the environment were violated.
Click for more about the tasks of the Prosecution Service!
In which kind of cases does the Prosecution Service take action?
The Prosecution Service primarily deals with criminal cases, so crimes can be reported to the competent prosecution office.
The Prosecution Service can also be notified about regulation breaches from authorities in administrative and misdemeanour cases.
What is the difference between the work of a prosecutor and a police officer?
Prosecutors work closely with police officers and investigators, however, their task and duties are not the same. Prosecutors overlook the investigation, and supervise the work of the investigators to ensure all regulations are met. In certain cases the permission of a prosecutor is required if certain information has to be obtained or certain investigative actions need to be carried out. Police can only initiate pre-trial detention and criminal supervision at the court through the competent prosecution office.
After the perpetrator was interrogated as a suspect, the prosecutor and the investigator decide together what kind of investigative measures still need to be executed. The prosecutor has the right to order the investigator to collect further evidence, establish further data or to conduct more hearings.
At the end of the investigation, the police sends the documents of the case to the competent prosecution office which will decide whether the investigation shall be terminated or the criminal liability of the suspect can be established, thus indictment could be filed or diversion could be applied.
What is the difference between the work of a prosecutor and an attorney?
The role of the attorney in a criminal procedure is to defend the accused and to give legal advise to them. The main task of the attorney is to emphasise the mitigating circumstances and thus, to achieve the termination of the procedure against the accused, or if possible, the acquittal of the accused or a lenient sentence.
Prosecutors shall take into account all available evidence during the entirety of the criminal procedure (during the investigation and at the trial). Prosecutors represent the State, not persons. The demand of the State is that the real perpetrator of the crime would be punished, and the legal guarantees would be met during the procedure. Thus, prosecutors have to collect both mitigating and aggravating evidence, and they have to terminate the investigation or have to initiate the acquittal of the accused if the available evidence does not support that the accused is guilty. The prosecutor’s mission is to achieve a just result.
Therefore, prosecutors have to constantly weigh the collected evidence and have to decide whether the guilt of the accused can be established. They also have to supervise the legality of the procedure.
However, in some cases, prosecutors and attorneys can be on the same side of the procedure. The victim has the right to entrust an attorney to represent their interests, and one of the key roles of the prosecutor is to ensure that victims of crime receive some form of protection and remedy. So in such cases, the prosecutor supports, within the legal framework, the work of the victim's representative.
What is the difference between the work of a prosecutor and a judge?
The aim of the prosecutor and the judge is to determine who committed what, when, why, and how, so the work of the prosecutor and the judge is similar in many ways.
Objectivity and impartiality are fundamental requirements in the work of both judicial actors. Both the prosecutor and the judge are required to consider all available evidence, be mitigating, extenuating, incriminating or aggravating for the accused.
However, the court does not participate actively in the investigation phase of the criminal procedure, the main tasks of the court start after the investigation was completed and the prosecution office filed an indictment.
In Hungary, it is not only the court’s exclusive right to establish if someone is guilty of a crime and to impose a punishment, in some cases the Prosecution Service also has the right to do so. In less serious cases, the prosecutor may apply diversion which means the case will be handled out of court jurisdiction and the perpetrator’s criminal liability is established by the Prosecution Service.
An important difference, however, is that the decisions of the prosecution offices can always be challenged in front of a court. Only the decisions of the court are final. The legal consequences of “Res judicata” are attached only to the final judgement of the court: no further proceedings can be instituted in the same case.
Further difference between the authority of the court and the Prosecutions Service is that only the court can order pre-trial detention or pre-trial supervision during the investigation phase on the proposal of the prosecution office.
What are the requirements for becoming a prosecutor?
- to be a Hungarian citizen,
- to have a clean record,
- to be legally competent,
- to have a law degree,
- to pass the bar exam,
- to have worked for at least one year:
- as a deputy prosecutor, a court clerk, a notary, an attorney, a legal adviser, a researcher at the National Institute of Criminology, as an investigator at an investigative authority,
- at the State Audit Office, at the central, regional and local body of the police, the penitentiary and the professional rescue services, in positions related to administrative and legal bar exam,
- at an international organization, or at a body of the European Union in the field of justice,
- has previously worked as a judge, as a prosecutor or as a judge at an international organization or at a body of the European Union.
Click for more about the co-workers of the Prosecution Service!
How many years does it take to become a prosecutor?
After graduating from a five-year law school, usually a three-year internship as a trainee prosecutor needs to follow at one of the prosecution offices. After the internship, bar exam must be taken. The exam consists of three parts and can be completed within approximately a year. After the successful bar exam, one has to work as a deputy prosecutor for at least one year to be able to apply to a position of a prosecutor.
Thus, it takes at least ten years after high school to become a prosecutor.
The Prosecutor General appoints the candidate to the position of a prosecutor at first for three years. After three years, the prosecutor may be appointed for an indefinite time-period.
One does not need to start as a trainee prosecutor to become a prosecutor later. In Hungary, the bar exam is unified, all law professionals take the same exam, thus, they are eligible to all legal positions.
What are the requirements for becoming Prosecutor General?
The position of the Prosecutor General fells under the same rules as the position of all prosecutors: the Prosecutor General must meet the same requirements as any prosecutors has to when they become a prosecutor.
The Prosecutor General is elected by the National Assembly for nine-years and can be re-elected.
Rules on conflict of interest for prosecutors
- be member of political parties,
- be a member of the National Assembly, the European Parliament, or the local government,
- be an ethnic advocate, a mayor or the Head of State.
- be the CEO or be a member of the supervisory board of business entities.
Prosecutors may not engage in political activity.
Independence and accountability of the prosecutors
The Prosecution Service is an independent actor of the administration of justice.
The Prosecutor General is elected by the National Assembly (Parliament). However, the Prosecutor General and the Prosecution Service are not subordinated to the Parliament.
The Prosecutor General bears no political responsibility to the Parliament for their individual decisions, and they shall be instructed neither directly nor indirectly to make or amend decisions with specified substance in individual cases.
The Prosecutor General is obliged to report annually to the Parliament on the activities of the Prosecution Service.
Members of the Parliament may also address questions to the Prosecutor General in plenary sessions or in written form, even regarding individual cases, to which the Prosecutor General is obliged to provide explanation and information. However, even if the answer is not accepted by the Parliament, it won’t affect the position of the Prosecutor General, the Prosecutor General cannot be held liable by the Parliament for decision in individual cases.
On the proposal of the President of Hungary, the Parliament may declare the Prosecutor General not fit for office, if they fail to perform their duties due to reasons attributable to them, if they commit a criminal offense or if they become unworthy of their position for other reasons.
Prosecutors can be held accountable in disciplinary, private and criminal law procedures in relation to their work.
The Day of the Prosecution Service
On June 10, 1871, the Act XXXIII of 1871 on the Crown Prosecution Service was legislated, and the Prosecution Service as an independent organization was born in Hungary.
Thus, the day of the Prosecution Service is June 10, which is a rest day for those working in the organisation.
Professional honours of the Prosecution Service are awarded in central and local ceremonies during this day.