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Attending court as a witness
16

mintiegreen · 29/06/2022 20:27

Hi all

I wondered if anyone could help me with what it's like to attend court as a witness? I've never done it before and I'll also have a newborn at the time.

I've googled but there's not a lot of detailed information.

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mintiegreen · 30/06/2022 07:11

Bump

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Picoloangel · 30/06/2022 07:21

There is usually someone at Court who will help you. Is it a criminal trial or something else?

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Picoloangel · 30/06/2022 07:21

Not being nosy just trying to find the best source of support.

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Mabelface · 30/06/2022 07:31

I was in a room with other witnesses away from the defendant. There were support people there who were lovely. In the end, the defendant pleaded guilty so I didn't need to go on the stand. A lot will change their plea at the last minute after hoping witnesses won't turn up!

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Picoloangel · 30/06/2022 07:38

you’ve probably seen this re criminal proceedings

Going to Court as a witness

If it’s a criminal case you’ll swear an oath on a holy book depending on your faith or affirm if you aren’t religious. You’ll then be asked questions by the lawyer for the person on whose side you’re appearing which will be designed to elicit your account of what happened. That’s called evidence in chief. You’ll then be cross examined - asked questions - by the lawyer representing the defendant- then the lawyer for the prosecution can also ask any further questions arising from that - known as re examination. If you’re giving evidence for the defence then it’s the same as above but the other way round and prosecution will cross examine.

Whatever the type of proceedings there will be someone at Court who can show you where to wait etc. You can ask for a rough time estimate and explain you have a new baby so that you’re not kept waiting around. You could ask if it’s possible to attend via a video platform the Court may be able to accommodate that.

If it’s a civil trial you don’t give evidence to elicit your account; any witness statement you may have given will stand as your evidence in chief and then you’ll be cross examined.

it won’t be an aggressive or unpleasant experience - don’t worry. Judges are very alive to witnesses being questioned aggressively etc.

Please also bear in mind that if it’s a criminal case the defendant could plead guilty and you won’t have to attend at all, unless you’re a victim and want to or if it’s civil there’s a huge possibility it’ll settle and you won’t need to go.

if you’re a defendant/claimant you can seek information from any lawyers representing you or form the Court itself.

Hope this helps but if you have any more questions just ask and I’ll post later when I can.

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mintiegreen · 30/06/2022 09:33

@Picoloangel It is criminal - and I highly doubt that they will plead guilty beforehand, they are not the sort to admit any sort of wrongdoing that's for sure. Thank you for the link, I did read some stuff online but it was sort of general stuff. Hopefully it'll be quite a smooth process.

@Mabelface I wish that they would do that and save us all the aggro, but they're not the sort of person to admit anything they did was wrong. Which is unfortunate.

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hesbeen2021 · 01/07/2022 08:52

I attended as the main witness to a serious violent crime ( not against me and the victim was the only other witness). I was in a room with other witnesses for other cases for the four days I had to wait to testify. The defendants were remanded into prison so, I think, were brought to the court daily from prison and I never saw them. It had been agreed I would be behind a screen when I gave evidence so all I could see were the judge, barristers and jury, not the defendants. It was honestly painless although very boring waiting for four days. In the end I was only in court for a short while, the cross examining was minimal and very respectful and I found the whole process quite painless although of course it's nerve wracking.
Sadly the defendants were found not guilty at the end of the week which completely shocked me as I thought it was a foregone conclusion they'd be found guilty as I know what I saw.
I was left feeling a little vulnerable when they were released but thankfully there was no comeback from them ( my name was never read out but they knew who I was)

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mintiegreen · 01/07/2022 10:06

@hesbeen2021 thanks so much for your experience. Mine is a little closer to home so the defendant is known to me and they know who I am so I suppose not much point in trying to be anonymous. He isn't remanded in prison (yet, although he's skirting close to breaking bail). I sincerely hope he is found guilty as that would be a gut punch.
I really hope I wouldn't have to wait around for 4 days but that's good to know because I'll have to pack enough bits for me and baby. I was lying awake last night thinking I'll have to take a suitcase on the train to stay there because I'll probably have bottles and sterilisers etc!

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mintiegreen · 01/07/2022 10:07

@hesbeen2021 forgot to say I am quite anxious about cross examining but then my statement given to police was exactly my own experience so there shouldn't be anything to find there! Hopefully they will be nice, I'm not very good in confrontational situations!

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GodspeedJune · 01/07/2022 10:12

Mintie The citizens advice run a witness service within courts who are really helpful and supportive. I’d highly recommend getting in touch with them.

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mintiegreen · 01/07/2022 10:38

@GodspeedJune I'll definitely contact them. Is it general to all courts? I live very far away from where I have to go to give evidence.

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Picoloangel · 01/07/2022 12:34

The Officer in the Case should be able to assist with all of this or at least point you in the right direction of help. Also worth asking if they will hear your evidence remotely

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VeronicaBeccabunga · 01/07/2022 12:47

I did this ages ago.
The whole thing seemed to go by very quickly. I felt a tiny bit miffed that no one says 'Please tell us your side of the story' but they fire fairly rapid questions and move on quickly leaving me feeling I wanted to say 'Hang on....let me tell you about the bit where...'
I'd say listen as carefully as you can to the questions and ask for clarity if you need to.
Also, as I stepped into the witness box the clerk? usher? thrust the bible and the appropriate words on a card into my hands and started the 'swear on the holy book' wording. I had to stop them and ask to affirm godlessly.
I hope this is done better these days.

Wishing you well with this, it's a bit daunting but I was proud to be part of the system that brought someone to justice.

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mintiegreen · 01/07/2022 12:55

I've not been contacted by anyone yet, so I guess I will wait and see if they do. I'll have to tell them that I will have a very small baby at the time depending on when I actually give birth.

@VeronicaBeccabunga that sounds awful! Certainly won't be swearing on any holy book that's for sure... I do hope that they give me time to answer. I'm probably going to be a bit wobbly anyway because of being freshly postpartum!!

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mintiegreen · 13/07/2022 19:50

Just updating. Witness care contacted me and I explained my situation. They're happy for me to bring my newborn. They're going to book a train for me and a hotel. Now I'm just anxious about being in court/cross examining and what to wear!

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Picoloangel · 13/07/2022 22:10

You can affirm. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in - some people
go full on suited and booted but mostly is say smart casual

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