Discretion in Criminal Justice (LAWS6066)


This unit looks at the ways in which the exercise of discretionary judgment arises for consideration in the course of the criminal justice process and the ways in which that judgment should be exercised at each step. It deals with each stage from the reporting or observation of crime, through investigation, arrest, charging, bail, plea, hearing, appeal, retrial and publicity. It describes how actors at each step (citizens, police, prosecutors and judges) confront decision making, the laws (legislation, common law) and rules (prosecution guidelines, memoranda and procedures) that apply and provides examples of the exercise of such discretions. It also looks at the place of public commentary (personal, the media and political) in the process. The unit explores nuances in the conduct of any criminal prosecution aside from the application of the letter of the law.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Aug 4, 5 & 18, 19 (9-5)


take-home exam (60%) and essay (40%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

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Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.