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Getting ready for court

If the case goes to court and you are required as a witness:

  • your summons or subpoena will tell you which court you will need to attend and when 
  • you may need to attend court more than once
  • it's possible that a hearing may be postponed (adjourned) to another day. 

The police or the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) can tell you when you will be needed at court. They will do their best to let you know if a hearing has been adjourned – but sometimes adjournments happen at short notice.

Information about the accused person

Once a person has been charged, police must provide you with details about how to find the date, time and place of the court hearing.

Once a person has been charged or summonsed to appear in court, the police should also give you the name of the accused/defendant. This allows you to contact the court directly to find out when the court case will be heard. Victims are not entitled to any other personal details of the accused/defendant. 

Sometimes, police can withhold the name of the accused/defendant if they feel that releasing the information could endanger others. If the accused/defendant is a young person (under 18 years), the police are not allowed to release any details to the public which could identify the young person.

Attending court

If you are not already required to attend as a witness, you may like to attend the court hearing. If you are appearing as a witness, you will not be able to be in the courtroom before you give your evidence. Afterwards, you should be able to listen to the rest of the hearing.

Most court cases are heard in 'open court' which means anyone can attend the hearing. Some proceedings may be closed to the public because the court thinks it is necessary to protect someone (a distressed witness, for example).

If the court is 'closed', only parties to the proceeding (e.g. defendant/accused or police prosecutor) can attend the hearing. It is a good idea to discuss whether this is a possibility in your case with the OPP if your matter is being heard in the County or Supreme Court, or the police informant in the Magistrates' Court.

Arriving at court

  • get to court at least half an hour before the time on your summons or subpoena
  • make sure you bring your copy of your written statement with you
  • when you arrive at court, you can ask at the clerk's counter or reception area if you have any questions
  • you may have to wait for some time before being called into court, so bring some music or a book with you
  • you cannot enter the courtroom until you are called
  • if you have concerns about seeing the accused person at court, talk to the police officer who is your handling your case
  • some courts have a special waiting room for witnesses.

Support for Court

Contact the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817.

If you are a witness at the hearing, contact the Witness Assistance Service (External link)