Going to court to give evidence as a victim or witness

Before the trial

If you’re a victim of crime or a witness for the prosecution, a ‘witness care officer’ will tell you which court to go to, and when to go there.

If you’re a witness for the defence, the defence lawyer will tell you when you have to go to court.

You’ll usually be given a fixed date to go to court.

Sometimes you’ll be given a 2 to 4 week period that you’ll need to keep free - this is known as a ‘warned period’ or ‘floating trial’. If this happens, you’ll be given 1 working day’s notice before you are due to go to court.

You must tell your witness care officer or the defence lawyer straight away if you cannot make the date of the trial.

Help getting to the court

There’s different support if you’re going to court as a witness in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

You’re a victim or prosecution witness

Ask the witness care officer for help if you cannot easily travel to court. They might be able to provide transport.

You might be able to give evidence through a video link if you live far away from the court, or find it very difficult to get there. Ask your witness care officer if this is available.

You’re a defence witness

Speak to the defence lawyer if you need help with getting to court.

You might be able to give evidence through a video link if you live far away from the court, or find it very difficult to get there. Ask the defence lawyer if this is possible.

Help in the courtroom if you have a disability

Check which facilities are available in the court you’re going to.

Contact the court to talk about your needs, or if you need any other help.

Sign language

You can usually get a British Sign Language (BSL) translator for the trial if you find it difficult to understand spoken English.

Ask the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) if you’re a victim or prosecution witness.

Ask the defence lawyer if you’re a defence witness.

Translators

If you do not understand English, you can usually get someone to translate or interpret the trial for free. Ask the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to arrange a translator if you’re a victim or prosecution witness.

If you’re a defence witness, ask the defence lawyer if you can get a translator.

Preparing to give evidence

Contact the Citizens Advice Witness Service to help prepare for the day.

Before the trial, they can:

  • show you around the court so you know what to expect on the day (sometimes called a pre-trial visit)
  • explain the court process and who’s who in the courtroom
  • come to your home or anywhere you feel safe to answer your questions