This is what a Crown Courtroom looks like. A Crown Court has a Jury, who decides if someone is guilty or not guilty and a Judge, who decides on the sentence. Some court buildings are quite old, and some are quite new, but most will be set out like this.
You can speak to your witness supporter if you are not sure which court you will be giving your evidence in. Explore this Crown Courtroom to find out more.
Magistrates Courtroom coming soon.
If you are 14 or over, the usher will ask you to 'take the oath' before you answer any questions about what you know. This is a promise to tell the truth. You will be asked your name and age before you say your oath.
You need to tell the usher and your witness supporter:
When you give your evidence you will be asked questions about what you know. This is called 'cross-examination'. Sometimes these questions can be difficult, so your witness supporter can help you get ready for this. It is important to remember to:
There may be times during cross examination when you do not understand the question, you are confused or upset or you don't agree with what someone is saying. It is okay to say:
These are some questions other young witnesses have asked.
If you have been asked to go to court then you do have to go. What you have to tell the court is so important that they need you to tell them yourself. If someone else speaks for you they may not get it right. It's important that you tell the court in your own words what you know.
If you have any worries about going to court, please tell your witness supporter or your police officer who can talk through your worries, look at your choices with you and help get you the right support.
There are things that can be done to help keep you separate from the defendant. This can include arranging for you to come into court through a separate entrance, giving your evidence from a different room or behind a screen and waiting in a separate safe area. The witness supporter will plan this with you on your pre-trial visit.
Even if the verdict isn't what you wanted, it doesn't mean that people didn't believe you. It just means that there wasn't enough evidence to prove it. You won't be in trouble for telling the truth - that's why the court has asked for you to be a witness. You will be asked questions about what you tell the court, this is to check out what you know.
Please do not worry about that. It is perfectly normal for people to forget things, especially when you are talking about difficult memories that happened a long time ago. If you do not remember then you simply tell the truth, and explain that you cannot remember.
Just put up your hand and say you need a break. The court will let you take a break.
You will need to talk to your supporters and plan where they will be when you give your evidence. If you don't want your supporters to hear your evidence - that's okay and you can ask your young witness supporter to help you explain what you want.
This is something that you can discuss with your family and your witness supporter. Some people want family members to be in the public gallery in court while they give their evidence. Other young people don't want their families to watch them giving their evidence and would like them to wait in the waiting room.
If you have an intermediary they will be supporting you to communicate with the court all the time you give your evidence.
If you have an interpreter they will be supporting you to communicate with the court all the time you give your evidence.
This is something that you can discuss with your supporters and your witness supporter. Some people want supporters to be in the public gallery in court while they give their evidence. Other young people don't want their supporters to watch them giving their evidence and would like them to wait in the waiting room.
I am the judge and I usually wear a white wig and a black gown (sometimes other colours). My job is to make sure all witnesses are able to tell the court what happened. I will make sure that you understand the questions you are asked. I also make sure everyone sticks to the rules of the court. If the defendant has been found guilty, then I will decide what will happen to that person. I also decide on which special measures you can have.
We are the jury and there are 12 of us. We are members of the public who do not know each other or anything about the trial before it came to court. Our job is to listen to all of the witnesses and decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
I am a witness. There may be a few witnesses or lots of witnesses. I will be asked questions about what I saw, heard or experienced. I may be a witness for the defence or the prosecution.
We are members of the public. The Crown Court is usually open to the public, where we will sit quietly and listen at the back of the court.
I am the prosecutor. I am a lawyer who tries to prove that the defendant has broken the law. I will show and talk about the evidence to the court, and ask witnesses questions about what happened.
I am the defence lawyer. I will ask witnesses questions and put forward the defendant's point of view on what happened.
If you use communication aids to say what you want, then these can be used when you give your evidence. These could be:
You may also be appointed an intermediary who will help you with your communication.
I am the person who has been accused of breaking the law. I may be asked to tell my story. I will sit in the court and hear what all the witnesses say about what happened.
I am an intermediary and my job is to help you communicate with the court. I can use different ways to help you communicate, including:
I can also help if you use any special means of communication or a communication aid.
I will also advise the court on how best to communicate with you, to help you understand the questions you are being asked. I will tell the court if I think you do not understand what is being asked.
In some courts, you can be filmed giving your evidence before a trial starts, so you don't have to wait for the trial. The filming will be done in court (usually the live link room) and the judge, prosecution, defence lawyer and defendant will be there. You will be asked questions from both the defence and the prosecution. Your evidence will be shown during the trial on the TV screen. You will usually not need to come to court during the trial.
Screens can be put up around the witness box so that you do not have to see other people in court, so the public gallery and the defendant cannot see you. The judge, the prosecutor, defence lawyer and the jury will always need to see you.
This is the video recording that was made when the police interviewed you and you told them what happened (your statement). It is played at trial as your main evidence on the TV screen. It is seen by everyone in the courtroom. You are allowed to watch the recording again before the trial to help refresh your memory. If you do not want to watch it at the trial, you can ask not to.
You can ask for the judge, the prosecution and defence lawyers to remove their wigs and gowns.
If you feel worried or frightened about giving evidence with members of the public in the court room, then you can ask for members of the public not to be allowed in the courtroom. The judge will decide if this can happen.
I am an interpreter and my job is to help you communicate with the court if you speak a different language or you use British Sign Language. I will only say the words that you communicate
I am the usher and I will be your first point of contact if you need anything whilst you are giving your evidence, e.g. water. I am responsible for preparing the courtroom, checking that witnesses, defendants and lawyers are present. I will call witnesses and defendants into court and I will show you how to say your oath.
I will also walk with the jury to and from the courtroom. I will be on duty outside the jury room and I'll be taking messages between the jury and the judge.
I may be in court to make sure that everyone is safe.