Be prepared for a lot of waiting! You will go in thought the side door and will have a separate waiting room that you and your supporters can use for the day.
Coffee and tea will be available, but you might want to take some snacks. There will also be a volunteer from Witness Services. Their role is to ensure that you are comfortable, to make sure the Police and CPS know you are there. When you go into court, the volunteer will sit with you. If you’re using the TV link, they will sit in the link room with you.
The Prosecution Barrister and the Officer will come to meet you in the waiting room. The Barrister cannot tell you much about what is going to happen, but they will usually tell you what the defence barrister will be focusing on.
Court generally starts at 10.00 am. Usually at about 11.00am the Barristers for prosecution and defense go into court and speak to the Judge. There are times when unfortunately, that a case is delayed, for example if the case before you have gone on longer than expected.
AT around 11.30 the jury will be sworn in. The jury is made up of 12 people, male and female between 18 and 65 years. The Judge will speak to the jury about their obligations.
The Prosecution will then open their case. Your video (if you have made one) is played to the court.
Lunch in court is generally at 1.00pm for an hour. You will be allowed to go out then for lunch if you want or you can stay in the waiting room.
When you come back from lunch you will be taken into court. You will be asked you to swear to the tell the truth, which can be on the Bible or other religious book, or you can make an oath that you will tell the truth. The Usher can either give you a card to read out or they will read a line and you repeat if you’re feeling too nervous to read.
You will then be cross examined. It is important to remember that your video is your evidence, so your Barrister will not need to ask you many questions. It is usually the Defense Barrister who questions you first. The questioning can obviously be distressing at times. You may not always know the answer, or you might have forgotten the answer and that is fine. Your job is to tell the truth. If the truth is that you cannot remember, then that is what you have to say; it is important you don’t guess the answer. The questions will be mainly based around your statement. The Barrister is not allowed to raise their voice or harass you, although they may ask you the same question a few times but slightly differently. If the Judge feels the questions are not appropriate, or feels you have already answered the question, they will ask the Barrister to move on.
Once the Defense has finished their questioning, your Barrister may have some questions, just to clarify anything they think that the jury may have misunderstood. When they are finished, the Judge will thank you for coming and tell you that you’re free to go. They will ask you not to speak to the other witnesses until after they have given their evidence.
Some people want to stay to watch the end of the trial and that is your right; you would need to go into the public gallery. The only time that becomes an issue is if you have special measures.