Can I be shown special consideration when I appear in court as a witness?

Can I be shown special consideration when I appear in court as a witness?

Witnesses very rarely have unpleasant experiences while giving evidence in court. Therefore, the court also rarely finds it necessary to show special consideration when a witness testifies in court.

If the court does find that you must be shown special consideration, the prosecutor or a legal advocate, if there is one, will usually be able to take care of this with the court in advance.

If, quite exceptionally, you are subjected to harassment or similar because you are going to give or already have given evidence as a witness, you must report it to the police immediately. The police and the court take cases concerning witness threats very seriously.

Avoid contact

In special cases, the police or the prosecutor can arrange with the court for someone to meet you when you arrive for the court hearing. It can also be arranged for you to wait in a special waiting room.

In some cases, the court may decide, at your request, that the defendant must sit out of your line of sight so you cannot see him or her while you give evidence. The court can also decide in special cases to tell the defendant to leave the courtroom while you are testifying.

Closed session

If you have been a victim of rape or a similar serious crime, you have the right to request a closed session while you provide your witness testimony. Your legal advocate or the prosecutor in the case can ask the court on your behalf to decide that the session will be closed to the public. 

When the session is closed, only those directly involved in the case can be present, and nothing said in court may be made public.

Reporting restrictions

If the court decides that the session will not be closed while you testify, the court may instead decide to impose reporting restrictions. This means your testimony must not be reported publicly, for example, in the media. Your legal advocate or the prosecutor in the case can ask the court on your behalf to decide that the session will be subject to reporting restrictions.

Information about your name

In special situations, the court may decide to withhold your name and address from the defendant. If you think the defendant should not be given this information, you must contact the court or the person who summoned you for the court hearing.

 

Click here to read more about the option of giving evidence anonymously.