Giving evidence in Court

To give evidence, the prosecutor will call you into the witness box. You can either swear on a bible or Koran to tell the truth or you can promise to tell the truth (affirm). The prosecutor will then take you through your evidence, based on the brief of evidence which has been filed at the court. He or she may also ask you additional questions.

You can expect to be cross examined by the defence lawyer. Sometimes the judge will also ask questions.

Your evidence will be recorded and typed into a transcript (called notes of evidence) that will be given to the judge, prosecutor and defence lawyer.

Once you’ve finished giving evidence, you will usually be given permission to leave the court. You’re entitled to watch the rest of the trial but in most cases you can’t watch the trial until after you have given your evidence.

FAQs for witnesses

Q. Can I claim expenses for attending court?

The SFO will provide you with a Ministry of Justice expense claim form.
This sets out what you can claim for, including expenses for travel (if we have not arranged this for you).

Q. How long will the trial go on for?

There are many things that influence the length of a trial so it’s impossible to say. The majority of SFO cases are large and complex and involve many witnesses, meaning the trial may go on for weeks. If the case continues for weeks or months, you will normally only have to attend court on the day that you have to give evidence.

Q. How do I find out about the verdict?

The SFO officer in charge will inform you of the verdict, which should also be available on the SFO website.

Q. Can the defendant appeal against the verdict?

An offender can appeal against the sentence or conviction or both. If the defendant is convicted and appeals the conviction, the entire trial may need to be heard again, meaning you may have to give your evidence again. If it is only the sentence in dispute, a judge may consider the appeal and decide whether to change the sentence or not.