Pre-trial discussion with Prosecutor (Zimbabwe)

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In the Prosecutors Handbook Reid-Rowland says this in Chapter 9:

  • Discussion of an impending prosecution with the accused's legal adviser is perfectly in order and indeed is usually advisable. Such discussion may well result in the defence agreeing to make admissions in order to shorten the State's case, or the defence may intimate that certain facts will not be disputed by the defence, with the result that the State may be able to dispense with calling certain witnesses.
  • Any such discussion should take place without the accused being present. Never hold any such discussion in the presence of the accused or any person other than his legal adviser.

It is thus perfectly permissible for defence counsel to negotiate with the prosecutor about the case. Defence counsel may want to talk to the prosecutor to try to narrow down the areas of dispute between the defence and the State and thus save time when the case is tried. He may wish to see whether the prosecutor is prepared to accept a plea of guilty to a lesser charge than that charged against his client instead of having a full scale argument in court as to whether the more serious crime was committed. (For instance, X may admit that he committed common assault but dispute that he committed assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.) He may even wish to discuss with the prosecutor whether there is indeed any case for his client to answer on the basis of the evidence at the disposal of the State and whether the charge should not be withdrawn. In this latter instance the defence lawyer may lay on the table the defence case and query with the prosecutor whether there is any case for X to answer.


See Zimbabwe Criminal Defense Manual