Different ways of giving evidence
Witnesses usually give their evidence in open court in the witness box. Sometimes - especially if the witness is a child or a victim of a sexual offence or is vulnerable - the judge might allow them to give their evidence in a different way.
How you give your evidence
As a witness, you're not allowed to go into the courtroom until it's time to give your evidence. This is because you're not allowed to hear what other witnesses say.
When it's your turn, the court officer comes to where you are waiting and calls your name. They'll take you and your support person, if you have one, into the courtroom.
If you're nervous about facing the defendant, you might be able to have a support person sit with you when you give your evidence (a family member, friend, Victim Support or other support worker). Ask the officer in charge or your court victim advisor about this beforehand so it can be approved.
If you need an interpreter, tell the officer in charge or your court victim advisor before the case starts. They will help you to organise this.
Modes of evidence
There are five main ways to give evidence in court:
- giving evidence from the witness box in open court
- giving evidence while screened from the defendant
- giving evidence-in-chief by video record
- giving evidence by closed circuit television from another room in the courthouse
- giving evidence by video link from somewhere else in New Zealand or overseas.
Applying to give evidence in a different way
If you feel you need special help to give evidence, speak to the officer in charge or your court victim advisor and they can apply to the court for you. The judge will decide if you can have help. It depends on your age, what offence the defendant is charged with and what the judge thinks is best.
If you are a victim of sexual offending or serious violent offending, the prosecutor should always speak to you about how you wish to give your evidence and make an application to the court for you to give your evidence in a different way if you want.