We have created a court Information leaflet designed to help you think through some important things in preparing for court and a trial. It details our recommendations as to discussions you may have, or want to have, with your counsellor, to address your needs in respect of therapeutic help whilst at the same time ensuring the best chance of a fair trial.
There are plenty of ways in which we can help you in counselling before your court case, and just a few conversations that we recommend are better saved until afterwards. This leaflet will also help you to prepare for the experience of going to court and for the possible outcomes to your court case.
The crown prosecution service (CPS)
The CPS are the main prosecuting authority in England and Wales and are responsible for:
- advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
- reviewing cases submitted by the police
- determining any charges in all but minor criminal cases
- preparing cases for court
- presenting cases at court
What support is available during a prosecution?
The CPS lawyer will discuss with you the various ways in which you can choose to give your evidence in court, depending on what is most comfortable for you. The lawyer will then make an application to the court on your behalf in advance of the trial for the method you have chosen.
You can visit the court to see the courtroom and video link room before the trial to help you decide which option would be best for you. You can be shown around the court by the police officer assigned to be your contact and by a member of staff from the witness service based at the court. They would need to make arrangements for you to visit when the court is not sitting.
In addition, the CPS can apply to the court on your behalf to have the following facilities made available to you in court:
You can choose to recount what happened to you via a video link to the courtroom, or, if you have chosen to give your initial account to the police by video, you can then answer any questions about that account via video link.
A video link allows you to be in another room other than the courtroom, so you do not have to see or hear the person on trial. You will only see the person asking you questions, for example, the prosecutor, the barrister representing the accused, or the judge.
The person on trial will not ask you questions directly. An independent member of staff from the witness support team can be present with you in the video link room whilst you are being asked questions. You can choose to have a short break during questioning if you want to.
You can ask to give your evidence in the courtroom from behind a screen. Sometimes people report a crime to the police months or even years after they have been sexually assaulted or raped.
They may have changed in appearance and not want the person on trial to know what they look like now. Screens allow you to give your account to the court and be asked questions without being seen by the accused.
Support is available for witnesses with different communication needs so that they can give their best evidence. A trained witness intermediary will be available to assist when children and other vulnerable witnesses are interviewed by police and give their evidence in a criminal trial.
The intermediary is selected for their specialist communication facilitation skills and experience – they might be speech and language therapists, psychologists, teachers, health professionals, children’s guardians, or social care workers.
Vulnerable witnesses whose communication difficulties mean that they could benefit from the assistance of an intermediary include children and young people under the age of 17 and people with physical, mental, or learning disabilities or disorders.
For further information, visit the CPS website: cps.gov.uk
Will I have to give details of my previous sexual history?
Evidence of your previous sexual history cannot be put before a jury without an application being made in writing to the court. The court would need to be satisfied that it was in the interest of justice and relevant to the case to allow the evidence. Such applications and the granting of them are very rare.
The CPS lawyer will ensure that you are made aware of the outcome of any ruling made by the court in relation to evidence of your previous sexual behaviour.
“Lifecentre has been vital for me in helping me deal with the abuse. It has given me the strength to get through the trial and look to the future and know that in the midst of chaos there was a safe place bringing stability into my life.”
Lifecentre client in their 30’s