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 should 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 person. 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 person.
Sometimes, police can withhold the name of the accused person 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.
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. If you are not already required to attend as a witness, you may like to attend the court 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. accused person 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.
Support for Court
The Victims Assistance Program can explain the court process and help you prepare for going to court. Call the Victims of Crime Helpline
on 1800 819 817.
A trained volunteer from Court Network can show you around the court beforehand, and be with you for your day in court. Call 1800 681 614.
For some serious crimes, the Witness Assistance Service can:
- give you information about the progress of your case
- explain the court process
- support you through meetings with the prosecution team
- help you with arrangements for being in court
- connect you with other support services.
Call the Witness Assistance Service on 1800 641 927.
The Child Witness Service can help children to understand the court process and give their evidence. Call 1300 790 540.