Say a person sues a fraudster in civil courts. Upon showing evidence of fraud, can the court, through request of the plaintiff, request a criminal investigation on the fraudster?

I would presume such criminal investigation when instructed by the courts will be of higher priority to law enforcers.

To put into context, I am currently suing a fraudster and would like to know if it is possible to request the courts to instigate a criminal investigation on the fraudster.

For a jurisdiction, I am based in Australia (though I am happy to accept answers from any other jurisdictions as well)

1 Answer 1



The police and the office of the public prosecutor have discretion in which cases they investigate or prosecute. The court may refer an instance of criminality to them but they are under no obligation to do anything with that referral.

  • Doesn't this depend on whether the found offense is to be investigated ex officio? (Not sure whether that distinction is made in common law, though)
    – PMF
    Dec 7, 2021 at 10:43
  • 1
    A judge cannot FORCE a criminal investigation, that's the question answered. But I think there is a good chance that police and prosecutors would listen to what a judge tells them. Especially if the judge actually found evidence of fraud during a civil case. And it could be both plaintiff and defendant who committed fraud.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:29
  • As background, many law enforcement agencies have an informal policy of not expending scarce resources to investigate and prosecute fraud cases when an adequate civil court remedy is viable and usually a plaintiff in such a case will ask the criminal authorities not to press charges (which would make their fraud judgment harder to collect) rather than the other way around.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 7, 2021 at 22:59
  • There area also rare cases where the fraudster is affiliated with the public prosecutor or the pertinent law enforcement agency where there would be a conflict of interest and the judge might appoint a special prosecutor (usually a DA for a different geographical area than the one that normally would have jurisdiction over the case) to examine the complaint in a conflict free manner in some U.S. states (provisions vary greatly).
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 7, 2021 at 23:21

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