Witness or Victim

As a victim or witness you will be asked questions about your statement; what you have seen, heard or experienced. Both lawyers, prosecuting and defending will get a chance to ask you questions.


The prosecutor is a lawyer who will try and prove that the defendant has broken the law, they will show and talk about the evidence to the court and ask any witnesses questions about what happened.

Live link

In special circumstances, you can give evidence via a ‘live link’, which means you give your evidence from another room in the court building. The link will be shown to the people in the courtroom via a TV screen in a similar format to ‘Skype’ or ‘FaceTime’. On your screen you will be able to see the judge and the lawyers but not the defendant.

Court Clerk

A court clerk acts as a legal adviser, they make sure all decisions being made by the magistrates are fair and just, as well as making sure everything is legally correct.

The court clerk will read the charges to the defendant and also explain procedures to victims, witnesses and defendant.


The control of the courtroom lies with the Magistrates; they decide whether the defendant has broken the law. There is usually three magistrates in a court, the person sitting in the middle also known as ‘the Chair’ will be the only one of the three people who talks to you and the courtroom.


The defendant is the person who is accused of breaking the law, they will be sat in the dock or near their defence lawyer. They may be asked to discuss what their version of the story is. The defendant will sit in the court throughout the trial and listen to what the witnesses have to say.

Note: There may be a dock guard stood with the defendant to make sure everyone feels safe.


The defence lawyer will ask questions and put forward the defendant’s point of view on what happened.


The usher is the person you should go to if you need anything whilst you are giving your evidence. They will show you how to say your oath and are responsible for preparing the courtroom and making sure everyone is present.

Public gallery

Members of the public can come and view the court proceedings. The people sitting in the public gallery will sit quietly and listen to the case.


Each court has a main entrance where most people enter the court. If you are worried about coming through the main entrance because you are nervous to see other people involved in the case, then be sure to let your Voice support worker know. They may be able to organise a separate entrance for you to use.

Security guard

There will be a security guard inside the entrance of the court, who will check all the people who come into the building. They will ask people to walk through a metal detector and also check their bags. This is to make sure that no one brings anything into court that is not allowed.


Being on time for court is very important. You can get advice on travel arrangements from you Voice support worker, they can also tell you how to claim your travel expenses back on the day of the trail.

Your support worker

The court based support worker will help you prepare for court. They can help you plan things like:

  • What to wear – Something smart but comfortable
  • How to let your work know you need time off
  • Medical requirements
  • Any adjustments e.g ramps to help you enter court
  • Who to contact – if you’re late for example
  • Safety plans

My Bag

Things you can bring:

  • Something to pass the time for example; books, ipod, phone (has to be on silent or used with head phones so that it won’t disturb others)
  • Medicine from a doctor
  • Snacks, drinks or some money to buy refreshments if there is a café at the court.

Things you can’t bring:

  • Sharp items
  • Cameras or video recorders
  • Anything that could be used to hurt others


Each court is different but some of the things that may be available are:

  • Accessible toilets
  • Café
  • Vending Machine
  • Tea/Coffee making facilities
  • Lifts
  • Ramps

In some courts you will be able to bring your own refreshments but in others you may not be allowed. You should speak to your support worker to find out what is available to you.


Waiting times will vary as it is hard to know how long people may need to give their evidence. The Victims’ Code states that you should not have to wait more than two hours; however sometimes there may be delays that cannot be helped. Your support worker will keep you updated with what's going on and be able to give you an estimate of how long you may have to wait.

Remember: Be prepared and bring things that can help you pass the time.

Other witnesses

There may well be other witnesses in the waiting room, there are separate rooms for the witnesses from the defence and the prosecution.

You will not have to wait in the same room as the defendant.

You must remember not to disturb others and not to discuss any evidence with each other.

If you have any questions on who may be in the room you can ask your support worker.

Mobile phones, tablets and iPods

If you choose to bring your phone along to play on games or listen to music, it is important you remember the following points:

  • Do not share anything on social media or over a telephone call about what is happening
  • Do not take any photos, videos or sound recordings whilst in the building
  • Keep your phone on silent and use headphones so you do not disturb others in the waiting room
  • Turn your phone off when its time to go into the courtroom

Witness Charter

This tells your about the support you can get and how you should be treated if you are giving evidence in court. To find out more click here.


You must remember that everyone in the court should be treated with respect and consideration especially regarding:

  • Age
  • Religion
  • Sexuality
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual identity
  • Gender
  • Learning difficulty or physical impairment

If you feel intimated by anyone else in the court or feel you have been treated unfairly then be sure to raise this with your support worker.

Victims’ Code

All victims of crime have a right to information and support from the police and the courts. The Victims’ Code tells you what these rights are.

You don't have to report a crime to the police to get support from us
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