Victim Services Court Assistance
Going through the criminal justice system as a witness can be confusing and overwhelming. The court process is viewed as adversarial and foreign by many victims. They often experience fear, anxiety, feel unsafe and may feel re-victimized through this process.
Victim Services provides victims of crime with support and information which may lessen the trauma of being victimized.
Understanding the criminal court process and the role of the witness can decrease the fear and anxiety often associated with testifying in court.
Court Workers DO NOT:
- Make decisions for someone
- Provide legal advice
- Provide counseling
- Discuss details of the offence
Court Orientation and Support
Volunteer Court Support Workers are available to provide court orientation, support and court accompaniment to victims/witnesses of a Criminal Offence, who have been subpoenaed to testify in court.
Court Support Workers Provide:
- Criminal Court education
- Court Orientation (understanding of what may happen that day)
- Accompaniment to Court
- Liaising with the Crown
- Information on programs and services for Victims of Crime
- Victim Impact Statement
- Financial Benefits Program
- Restitution Forms
- Appropriate referrals to community based programs
- Safety Planning
- Ongoing Emotional Support
Rules for Court
- Do not wear a hat in court
- Do not chew gum in court
- Do not eat or drink in court
- If you are in the courtroom audience, try not to talk at all. If necessary, talk very quietly.
If you are a witness:
- You must arrive on time
- Dress appropriately for court
- Speak in a loud, clear voice so that you can be heard well in the courtroom
- Do not nod your head for yes or no. You must clearly say, “Yes” or “No” so that your responses can be recorded
- Use your best manners and be polite
- You must tell the truth
You must stand up when:
- The judge enters the courtroom
- The judge leaves the courtroom
- The judge directly asks you a question
Refer to the Judge as:
- “Your Honour”
- “Your Lordship”
- “My Lord”
Suggestions for a witness:
- Review the facts in your own mind
- Review your statement to Police
- DO NOT discuss your evidence with others
- Tell the Truth
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t guess
- Speak Clearly
- Tell the complete story
- Try to remain calm
- Remember that it is part of the Defence lawyer’s job to ask questions to determine the accuracy of your statement
- Tell the court if you don’t understand something
- It is OK to ask for the things that you need. If you need a Kleenex or a glass of water, you can ask for it. If you have to go to the bathroom, ask if you can be excused.
Court Support for Children
Child witnesses requiring orientation are provided with age appropriate information about the court system. Through videos, books and discussion, children’s questions are answered and they are provided with information to assist them during their testimony.
To access Court Orientation and Accompaniment Services, please contact us or your local Victim Service Unit.