Preparing for court
The court process can take some time and court dates can change suddenly. Sometimes cases are not finalised on the first court date. In some cases, there will be different types of hearings on different days.
Your court victim advisor can help by explaining the court process and showing you the courtroom before the hearing. Contact a court victim advisor on 0800 650 654 to organise this.
- Getting ready for court
- When you get to court
- Meeting the prosecutor
- Rules of the courtroom
The thought of going to court can make some people feel nervous or anxious, especially if they also have to give evidence. Here are some tips for getting ready for court:
- Wear neat and tidy and comfortable clothes. It may also be useful to bring a jacket or a jumper as some courtrooms can be cold.
- Take your summons or letter telling you the date and time of the court case and a copy of your written statement that you gave to the police.
- Take some money for food, drinks or car parking.
- Bring something to read or do, as you might have to wait for a while.
- If you are employed, you should arrange to take time off work.
- If you have children, make sure you organise for someone to look after them on the day.
You should try and get to court about 30 minutes before the case starts. When you arrive:
- there will be a security check at the entrance
- find the Daily Court List on the notice board in the foyer of the court
- check for the defendant’s name on the Daily Court List, and write down the court room number,
- ask reception to call the court victim advisor for you.
In criminal court cases, it is the state (not the victim) that prosecutes the defendant in court.
You are likely to meet with the prosecutor (a lawyer) who is preparing your case for the hearing. This will either be a police prosecutor or a Crown Solicitor, depending on the seriousness of the crime.
The prosecutor will always try and meet with you if you are the victim of a sexual offence, are a child victim or the family member of a victim who has died. The prosecutor will explain the court process, let you know when upsetting or graphic evidence is going to be presented and discuss how you are going to give evidence (if you have been called as a witness).
When the judge goes into or leaves the court room, you must stand up. In the court room you are not allowed to:
- eat or drink
- wear a hat or sunglasses
- talk while a witness is giving evidence
- be disruptive at any time
- use your mobile phone.
Witnesses may be able to claim expenses to cover some of the costs of attending court to give evidence. Speak to the officer in charge about how to claim these expenses.
If you are a victim of a serious crime you may be able to claim additional expenses for attending court. Talk to a court victim advisor or Victim Support about how to claim these expenses.