As a witness, you'll be asked questions about what happened or what you know about the crime.
This section talks about preparing to be a witness, taking an oath and tips for giving your evidence. For more information see how you give your evidence in court, including different ways of giving evidence.
The prosecutor, officer in charge or your court victim advisor can also give you information about being a witness.
Preparing to be a witness
Before you go to court it can be helpful to read your statement again and try to remember details about the crime, such as dates, times, descriptions and exact words used. Do not discuss your evidence with anyone else.
If you are a victim and you have to give evidence, a court victim advisor can show you around the court before the hearing and explain what happens and what different people’s roles are.
Taking an oath
Before you give evidence, you'll have to make a promise to tell the truth. You can choose to take an oath (a religious promise) or to make an affirmation (a non religious promise).
You'll be asked questions in court by the prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer. The judge might also ask you questions.
There are different steps to giving evidence in a court case. The main steps are:
- evidence-in-chief when you answer questions from the prosecutor
- cross-examination when you answer questions from the defence, and (sometimes)
- re-examination when you answer more questions from the prosecutor.
When you give evidence:
- take your time
- tell the truth
- remain calm and speak clearly
- you can ask for questions to be repeated if you don’t understand them
- you can say if you don’t know or can’t remember
- don’t make jokes.
If you feel upset or distressed:
- take some deep breaths or have a drink of water
- try to relax
- only continue when you’re ready
- you can ask for a break if you need one.
When you finish giving evidence, the judge will tell you when you can leave. You can choose to stay in the courtroom if you want.
Read about your right to speak official languages in court
Right to speak official languages in court
If you’re a witness in court, you have the right to speak Maori or use New Zealand Sign Language in any legal proceedings. An interpreter will be provided.
If you’re not a witness, you may speak Maori or use New Zealand sign language if the judge says you can.