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What happens if my case goes to court?

Once someone has been charged with a crime, the case is passed to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and it’s their job to put together the case for court. They will collect the police’s evidence, liaise with witnesses and attend court hearings to present their case.

Who will be in the court room?

Most cases are heard in the Magistrates’ Court with more serious ones being heard in the Crown Court. Criminal courts in the UK are public spaces, so in theory, anyone is able to come and watch. In the Crown Court, a judge will sit in robes at a high desk, called the bench; in the Magistrates’ Court, there will be three magistrates with a legal advisor sitting in front of them. There will also be the solicitor or barrister for the CPS who will present your case and another representing the defendant, who will also be there. In the Crown Court there will also be a jury. Witnesses are not allowed to sit in the court before giving their evidence, but sometimes once they have done, they stay to see what happens.

Will the press be there and will I be named in the paper?

Unfortunately, there is currently no right to anonymity for people who have had their intimate images shared without their consent, though there is for victims of voyeurism. The press may be in attendance and may report on your case, but in practice it is extremely rare for them to name a victim in this sort of case.

Will I have to see the person who did this?

The defendant usually sits in the dock in court and are entitled to hear all the evidence against them. If you are uncomfortable with being seen by this person, and think it will affect the evidence that you give, you can ask for screens to be put up between you. It’s called ‘special measures’, ask the lawyer dealing with your case or witness care.

What is giving evidence like?

You will be called to the witness box by the solicitor for the CPS and you will be asked to take an oath, or affirm, that you will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The solicitor will then take you through questions to help you tell the court what has happened. After this, you will be asked questions by the defence solicitor who will be trying to put the other side of the story. This can be a difficult experience, but the judge/magistrates will understand this and be patient: just take the time you need. If you’d like to see the court room in advance to help you prepare, witness care can arrange this for you.

How will I find out the result?

The court will try and complete the case as soon as possible, the same day if they can, or soon after. If the defendant is found guilty they may sentence straight away, or they may have to wait for reports from the probation service about the defendant’s circumstances. Witness case will keep you informed of what is happening and the outcome.

There is more information here about being a witness in a trial.

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