If you are reading this, you may have seen something happen or someone has hurt you in a way that is against the law. This wasn’t your fault, but because you are involved, you will need to give evidence in a court of law.
To help ease your burden, you have been assigned a PACT volunteer who is there to help you with any questions you may have and to support you along the way.
Your PACT Support Person is there to:
Explain the legal and court process in ways you can understand
Answer your questions to help you feel less anxious
Discuss any fears you may have about giving evidence
Be with you at every key step of the legal process for support
Before you give evidence:
Day of court:
1. Your PACT volunteer will meet you near the courthouse at a place you have decided on beforehand.
2. You will be taken through the Director of Public Prosecutions area to help prepare you to give evidence.
3. You wait until you're called to give evidence. As it can take a long time for the proceedings to commence, it is a good idea to bring something warm (like a jumper), your phone and charger, a book to read, a water bottle and a snack.
Children and young people under the age of 18 can usually give pre-recorded evidence from a private room using a video link, away from the main court. This means you will probably give your evidence from the pre-recording room.
The pre-recording room has comfy chairs and a table, a video screen with a camera and microphone where you will talk to the judge, prosecutor and defence lawyer. It's a safe room and your PACT volunteer will be next to you while you give evidence.
Here are some tips to remember when giving evidence:
Click here for downloadable PDF
It’s normal to feel embarrassed when speaking about what happened. It is still important to tell the truth, even if it is a secret or you need to say rude words.
It's OK not to know the answer.
If the defence lawyer asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, it’s ok to say “I don’t know.”
If you don’t agree with something the defence lawyer says, you can say “I don’t agree.”
Giving evidence isn't a test.
You don’t have to know all the answers. If you can’t remember something, it’s ok to say “I don’t remember.”
Speak up if you don't understand the question.
Defence lawyers sometimes ask things in ways which are hard to understand. Just say you don’t understand the question.
It’s normal to feel scared. Remember, this is your time to tell the truth, so speak in a loud and clear voice. When you speak to the judge it is polite to call them “Your Honour”.
Tell the judge if you need a break.
Sometimes it doesn’t take long to give evidence and it’s over in a few minutes, other times it can take much longer. Ask the judge if you need a water or toilet break.
Try breathing slowly and calmly if you feel nervous or scared. Your PACT volunteer is right there next to you for support.