If you are going to court to give evidence in a committal hearing, in the Magistrates’ Court, you will have made a statement to the police and received a summons requiring you to go to court and answer questions about what you have told the police.
If you are going to court to give evidence in a criminal trial, in either the County Court or Supreme Court, you will have made a statement to the police and received a subpoena requiring you to go to court and answer questions about what you have told the police.
The informant, Office of Public Prosecutions' (OPP) solicitor or Witness Assistance Service (WAS) worker – will tell you when you are required to give evidence. It will not necessarily be on the day specified in the summons or subpeona.
On the day you go to court
On the day you go to court, it is advisable to arrive at court at least half an hour before the time on your summons or subpoena. There may be delays entering the court due to security screening.
You may have made arrangements with the police informant about a meeting place and time. If not, you will need to do the following things.
go through court security, if necessary.
check the daily court list on the notice board in the foyer of the court.
find (on the court list) the name of the accused, which is on the front of the subpoena, and make a note of the courtroom number.
go to the correct courtroom and wait outside for the police informant, OPP solicitor or WAS worker to meet you.
if you do not want to have your address read out in court, tell the police informant or the OPP solicitor before you go into court.
If you are at a regional court, you can go to the Registrar’s Counter for help.
What to do in court
When you first arrive, you will be asked to sit outside the courtroom until you are called to give evidence. As a witness you cannot sit in court and listen to evidence given by other witnesses.
It is important to avoid talking to strangers while you are waiting, as they may be witnesses or jurors in the matter. If you know other witnesses you may speak to them, but avoid talking about the matter. It is important that the evidence to be given by a witness is not influenced by something another witness tells them. If you are near people involved in the matter who make you feel uncomfortable, you should tell the police informant or the OPP solicitor.
Sometimes you will have to wait a long time before you are called to give evidence. It is difficult to accurately predict how long other witnesses giving evidence, or discussions in court, will take. You could use this time to read over your statement. If there is anything you disagree with in your statement, you should tell the OPP solicitor or police informant. It is also a good idea to bring a book or magazine to read.
It is normal to feel nervous about going to court and giving evidence. The OPP’s WAS can give you information and support throughout the process.
If you have any concerns about your safety while giving evidence in court, you should contact someone from the prosecution team – either the police informant, solicitor or WAS.
Once you start giving evidence you need to remain at court until finished. This may mean returning on the next or other days until you are excused at the end of the evidence.