It can take months for a case to come to court, sometimes a year or more. During this time the police gather evidence for the case and prepare for court.
This section has information about:
- preparing for court, including when you will meet with the prosecutor
- telling the court about how the crime has affected you (this can be done through your victim impact statement)
- how to stay informed about what is happening.
If a child or young person has offended against you, the matter will be dealt with through the youth justice process.
How will I know if I have to go to court?
If you are called as a witness, you will be given a letter called a summons. It will tell you when and where the court case is going to be held. If you receive a summons, you must go to court.
If you are a victim but have not been called as a witness you don’t have to go to court, but you can go if you want to. If you do want to go, tell the police officer in charge and they will let you know when the case is going to start.
Can I get information and support at court?
Once the defendant makes their first appearance in court, a court victim advisor (external link) will get in touch with you. It is their job to keep you informed about the progress of your case. They can also tell you where to get emotional and financial support. You can get in contact with a court victim advisor by calling 0800 650 654.
Read about your right to get information about the case
Right to be given information about investigation and criminal proceedings
Victims of crime have the right to be told within a reasonable time what is happening with the case, unless the information could harm the investigation or the criminal proceedings.
This might include information from investigating authorities, court staff or the prosecutor that covers:
- charges filed against the defendant
- reasons for not laying charges
- your role as a witness
- when and where the hearings will take place
- the outcome of any criminal proceedings, including any proceedings on appeal
- an offender’s progress on a plan agreed at a family group conference.
You can ask for this information to be given to someone else who will then explain it to you.