You may have to attend court for a wide-range of reasons. You could be called as witness or perhaps you have been summoned for jury duty. No matter the reason for attending court, there are a number of ways in which you can prepare for your court appearance. If you plan carefully, the whole process will be less stressful.
There some general pieces of advice that everyone that attends court should follow:
Ensure you know the correct time, date and courtroom you should appear in.
Dress smartly when you appear in court.
Don’t take any recording equipment into the court, as this isn’t allowed.
Don’t bring young children into the court.
Don’t bring food and drink into the court.
Only address the judge unless instructed otherwise.
Don’t chew gum or fidget.
Pay attention and answer any questions in a clear voice.
Being a Witness
If you are being called as a witness there are a number of things you can do to prepare for your court appearance. If you need to give detailed evidence, ensure you understand the information you must give to the court. Get any supporting evidence ready that you need to the court. If you fail to do this, the court hearing could be delayed.
Being a witness in court can be a traumatic experience especially if the case you are involved in is a violent crime. Victim Support can help you through the court experience and provide help after your court appearance is over. You can contact their national centre by telephoning: 020 7735 9166.
You could also be called as a witness in a court martial if the case involves a member of the armed forces. As with any other kind of court case, before you are due to appear in the court, make sure you understand the testimony you will be giving. The Witness Support service from Victim Support can help you prepare for your court case.
Being a Defendant
If you have been arrested as a suspect in a crime, you will usually be sent to a magistrates’ court. The Crown Prosecution Service will decide if you should stand trial. You will normally be told this within 6 months of your arrest. If you are charged you will receive a written summons before your court appearance is due to take place. The summons will tell you which court your case will appear in, and the date and time you should arrive at the court.
Being a Juror
Generally, any member of the public can be summoned for jury service. If you do receive a summons letter ensure you return the relevant forms as soon as you can. Once you know which court, date and time of your jury service make sure you arrive at the court in plenty of time. Also make sure you have appropriate forms of identification. It’s also a good idea to bring something with you to pass the time, as you could be waiting all day for your jury duty to begin.
The youth court is for young offenders up to the age of 17. If you do need to attend a youth court, it’s a good idea to arrive at least 30 minutes before your case is due to be heard. Also, if you want to make a statement in court about your case you should practice what you want to say. Alternatively, if you don’t want to speak you can write your comments down and hand the piece of paper to the court clerk who will pass this to the judge.