If your case goes to court the police will pass your details to the Witness Service. They're based at the court and will help you with information and support throughout the trial. 

Getting ready to go to court

The Witness Care Unit (WCU) will be in touch to make sure you give your best evidence at the trial. They will:

  • let you know where and when the trial will happen
  • arrange for you to visit the court before the trial starts, so you know what to expect
  • help you get to the trial and give evidence, eg by arranging child care or transport

Understanding what might happen

If you've given a statement, you'll be able to see it again before you give evidence, so you can remember what you said. 

If you're the close relative of someone killed as a result of a crime, you should be able to meet the CPS prosecutor and find out what might happen at the trial. You may also be able to meet them if you're going to court as a witness.

Giving your best evidence as a victim

If you're giving evidence the judge or magistrates might decide to give you extra help. These Special Measures could include:

  • putting screens around the witness box
  • giving evidence by live video link so you don't have to face the suspect or their family
  • asking the public to leave the courtroom when you're giving evidence

When the trial begins

Where possible, court staff can arrange to let you into the court through a different door to the defendant and seat you away from their friends and family. If you're:

  • a witness you won't be able to watch the trial until you've given evidence
  • not a witness you can go to the trial from the beginning. Make sure court staff know you're there

The verdict and sentencing

The WCU or the investigating officer will tell you the outcome of the trial within 1 working day of being informed by the court. If the defendant is found:

  • not guilty, they will be let off the charges against them (known as 'acquitted') and will walk free from the court
  • guilty, the judge or magistrates will decide on their sentence

If the WCU or officer can't answer all your questions about the sentence they should put you in touch with the CPS, who will be able to help. They may refer you to victim services for more help if you need it.

Read more about sentencing.

Expenses for going to court

If you've given evidence at the trial, you'll be able to claim some expenses to cover your travel, food, loss of earnings and child care.

The CPS representative at court will give you a copy of the expenses form.