Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM)
The core task of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Aruba (OM) as stated in Article 3 of the Uniform National Ordinance (Eenvormige Landsverordening) of the judicial system reads as follows:
"The Public Prosecutor is particularly in charge of the enforcement of legislation, the prosecution of criminal offenses, the carrying out of convictions and decisions in criminal cases and overseeing compliance with court decisions in disciplinary cases."
This principal task of the Public Prosecutor’s Office can be divided into 4 tasks:
- Maintain legal regulations;
- Lead investigation of criminal offenses;
- Prosecute offenses;
4. Supervise the execution of criminal judgments
Below the four tasks of the Public Prosecution are further explained.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office is primarily in charge with the enforcement of the law. This means that the Public Prosecutor’s Office has the task of ensuring that the rules and laws of Aruba are not violated. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is particularly in charge of criminal enforcement, thus with the set of rules (laws and regulations) which establish punishment. The enforcement of these regulations is the prevention, control and reduction of crime.
When a criminal act has been committed, police officers will carry out an investigation. During the investigation the police officers will look for evidence, witnesses and hear possible victims, arrest suspects and record all data in a so-called official report. An official report (also called PV) is a formal written document by police officers with facts they have observed, statements from suspects or witnesses and other investigation (fingerprint research, DNA testing) that is carried out.
The prosecutor is also involved in the investigation of criminal offenses. He himself does not investigate suspects, but the prosecutor is in charge of the criminal investigations by police officers. The prosecutor ensures that the investigation is carried out carefully and fairly; namely according to the rules laid down in the law.
After capturing all the details of the police investigation into a report, the police officer will send the report to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutor revises the report and all procedural documents and assesses whether the actions of the accused are punishable according to the law. When the prosecutor has all the facts in place, he/she will make a decision. The prosecutor decides whether a suspect will be further prosecuted. Further criminal prosecution means to bring the case to the judge through a subpoena.
Aruban law recognizes the so-called discretionary principle, which means that the prosecutor is not required to bring cases to court. The prosecutor may also decide to dismiss the case. The shelving of cases occurs for example in situations where the police have been unable to gather sufficient evidence, or in situations where it regards a minor offense and the offender has compensated the damage to the victim.
The prosecutor can also conditionally dismiss the criminal case. In a conditional discharge, the public prosecutor proposes to the accused to not prosecute him under one or more conditions. For example, the accused reimburses the damage he/she has caused.
When the offense is considered a punishable offense, like driving a car without a valid inspection, the public prosecutor may also decide on a transaction. The suspect then pays an amount set by the prosecutor to the Country Aruba and does not need to appear anymore in court. When the transaction is paid, the case is dismissed. A defendant who fails to pay the transaction amount must still appear in court.
If no transaction or conditional discharge is presented and the case is not dismissed, the defendant is summoned. This is done by means of a subpoena. A subpoena is an official document in which the prosecutor calls the accused person to appear on a certain day at a certain time in court. The offense the prosecutor accuses the suspect of is also mentioned in the subpoena.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office also supervises the execution or enforcement of criminal convictions. This means that the Public Prosecutor’s Office prosecution must ensure that fines are collected; services that imposed by the court are carried out and prison sentences are served.