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Frequently Asked Questions - Going to court

Do I need a lawyer?

No. The State (DPP/Police Prosecution) presents the case to the courts with the aim of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant committed the offence.

Do I have to see, or be in the same room as, the accused?

Not necessarily – if you are deemed to be a vulnerable witness, you may be able to testify using CCTV. Assessment is required for non- sexual related crimes.

If I give my evidence via CCTV, can I then go in the court room to listen and observe the remainder of the trial?

It is generally assumed that if you are intimidated by the accused and require the use of CCTV because of this, the jury and/or judge may consider your presence in the court as making a mockery of this, which may have a negative impact on how they view the case. However, the court is open to the public and should you decide to enter and observe a trial that is your right, but give due consideration as to whether it may prejudice your case in the eyes of the jury and or judge.

Can I have someone with me when I give my evidence?

Yes. Victim Support Service volunteers are available and experienced in the court processes. You may have a family member or friend with you, but it is important to remember that they cannot touch you or speak while you are giving evidence. You cannot discuss the evidence with anyone should there be a court break.

Are the DPP/Police Prosecution my lawyer?

No.

When I enter the court room and bow am I bowing to the judge or magistrate?

No. You are in fact bowing to the Coat of Arms located behind the judge or magistrate, in respect for the laws of the land, the court and its judiciary.

Will the defence counsel bully me or make me out to be a liar?

It is the role of the defendant's lawyer, on behalf of their client, to deny or disprove that the offence occurred or the defendant is guilty of the offence. Remember to tell the truth, stick to the facts and try not to take it personally or get flustered.

Is it ‘my’ case going before the courts?

No. When an offence occurs, it is seen as an offence against the laws of the State of WA, therefore it is the State of WA versus the accused. You become a witness to the offence and are summonsed to the courts to inform the courts what happened.

What if I decide I do not want to proceed and want the charges to be dropped against the accused?

When the police investigate and find sufficient evidence that an offence has occurred, they will charge the accused. As it is an offence against the State of WA, it is up to the prosecution (DPP/Police) to pursue justice for the State and will generally proceed with the charges despite your change of mind.

What if I decide I do not want to attend court, but have been summonsed to give evidence?

If you received a summons, you have to attend court even if you do not want to. If you do not attend court without a valid reason, you can be arrested.

Can the partner/family/friends attend the appeal hearing in the Court of Criminal Appeal?

Ordinarily, any member of the public can attend the hearing of an appeal.

How long will the appeal process take from the time of lodging the application until a decision is made?

It varies from case to case. On average, it is quicker than the time it takes from the date of the alleged offence until trial.

Can the offender lodge the appeal him/herself?

While an offender may have a lawyer acting for him/her, many offenders lodge appeals against sentence in person.

If the offender/appellant engages a lawyer, can this be covered by legal aid?

Yes. Although many offenders are currently lodging appeals in person as legal aid is not available.

Frequently Asked Questions - Mediation

Do I have to meet the offender in person?

The reparative mediation process is voluntary so you have the choice of whether to engage or not. If you choose to engage in mediation, then you can also decide on the level of interaction.  Mediation can occur face-to-face or indirectly.

Can someone come to the mediation with me?

Yes. You can have a support person present during all interviews and any face to face mediation.

Does my identity remain confidential?

If you choose to remain unidentified, the mediation officer will not divulge any of your personal details to the offender. Participation via indirect mediation can still be undertaken.

Will my participation impact on the offender’s sentence?

The sentencing judge or magistrate will take into account a mediation report when deciding appropriate sentence. It can be considered as mitigation for the offender.

Can I ask the offender why?

Yes. During the mediation process you can ask the offender questions as to motivation, reason and explanation for the offence.

Can I tell the offender how his/her actions impacted on my life?

Yes. During mediation you also have the option of telling the offender (and the court) how the offence has impacted on your life.

How can I tell the court what happened to me?

The mediation officer will compile a report which is provided to the court - this provides an overview of the mediation process including information from interviews. The other way is for you to prepare a Victim Impact Statement.

Can I ask for compensation?

Reparative mediation is designed to help you receive some form of compensation for the impact of the offence. If the offence involved theft of money or incurred a cost due to replacing stolen or damaged property, then you can request that the offender provide compensation.

Is this the same as Criminal Injuries Compensation?

No. Compensation via the mediation process, or as ordered by the sentencing court, is a separate consideration to Criminal Injuries Compensation.

Last updated: 18-Feb-2013

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