Things to Know When Attending Court
Most people have no experience of what it actually feels like to attend court. You could be asked to come to court for a number of reasons. Generally speaking you should conduct yourself in the same manner no matter what court you have to attend. But the why you are in court will mean you have to bear in mind several specific rules and regulations while you are at court.
If you are called to court always:
- Come to court at the right date and time. This information will be on the letters you have received from the police, Crown Prosecution Service or Jury Summoning Bureau.
- Dress smartly. You may have to wait for some time, so wear comfortable clothes.
- If you have documentary evidence make sure you bring this with you.Take someone to court with you. Courts can be intimidating places. If you don't have anyone to go with you, contact the Witness Support service that can help you.
- Try not to bring children to court with you.
- Don't take recording equipment into the court, as this is illegal.
If you are Called as a WitnessWitnesses can be one of the most important parts of a court case. If you have reported a crime and given a statement to the police you will generally not be called to appear in court as your statement contains all the information the police need. However, in some serious criminal cases you may be called to the witness box to give your evidence in person. These types of cases tend to get heard at the Crown Court or the Coroner's Court in the case of an unexplained death.
Being a witness can be a stressful experience especially if you are witness to a violent crime or a death. Victim Support operates the Witness Support Service that can help you before, during and after your court appearance. You can contact them by telephoning: 020 7735 9166, or visiting their website: www.victimsupport.org.
If you are Called as DefendantPeople that are sent for trial will usually appear at the Crown Court if their crime is serious. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided that your cases should go to court. All defendants have a number of rights when they are in court. These are laid out in the CPS's code of practice. You can download a copy on the Crown Prosecution website.
It is important that you appear before the court at your stated time and date. If you think you can't tell your solicitor as soon as you can. If you fail to turn up for your court case this is a criminal offence unless you have a very good reason. You could be sent to jail for up to 1 year if you don't attend. An arrest warrant will be issued as soon as your time in court passes, and you will be automatically charged with the offence of failing to appear.
Make sure you turn up at court with plenty of time. You should already have been told which court you are in. If not, you can look this up at the court. You will see your case listed as 'R v (your name)'. The R stands for Regina and means that the CPS is bringing the case against you. You can sit and wait for your court appearance, but you may not want to sit with anyone that is also there as a witness against you. Tell the court usher who will show you another place to sit. Never leave the court until you are told to do so. If you do leave, this is an offence.