Witnesses and victims

If you are a witness to or victim of a crime, you may be required to assist in the prosecution of a case.  This would normally mean going to court and giving evidence by telling the judge and jury what you have experienced or witnessed.

Giving evidence can be a stressful experience and it is normal to feel nervous or anxious about going to court.  Sometimes the information you are asked to talk about might be embarrassing or emotional.  Being in the same room as the accused person may make it difficult, especially when the evidence you are giving is personal.

The Crown prosecutor may want to meet with you at some stage before you have to go to court.  This is a good opportunity for you to meet the people dealing with the case and to talk to them about any concerns or questions you might have about the case.

Witness Assistance Service

If you are worried about giving evidence, you can talk to the Crown prosecutor or get support from the Witness Assistance Service.

This service supports witnesses and victims giving evidence for the State through witness assistance officers.

A witness assistance officer will

  • give you information about court procedures and legal processes
  • provide crisis counselling, debriefing from court and refer you to services in the community
  • liaise between you and DPP staff
  • take you on a tour of the court
  • go to meetings with you
  • help you prepare your victim impact statement

Children and special witnesses

Some groups of people may need extra help when giving evidence.

They include

  • children (under 18) in relation to a broad range of offences
  • people with an intellectual, mental or physical disability
  • those who may be affected by age, cultural background, relationship to any party in the proceeding or the nature of the subject matter

If the court accepts that you meet one of these criteria then it is possible to

  • have a support person with you in court
  • use an audio-visual link to give evidence rather than being in court
  • have some persons excluded from the court room

If you think this would apply and be helpful to you, then you should ask the Crown prosecutor or witness assistance officer about it.

Legislation - Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Act 2001

Victim impact statements

A victim impact statement is an opportunity for you to tell the judge in your own words about the effect that the crime has had on you – physically, emotionally and financially.

The victim impact statement is tendered to the court as part of the sentencing process.  You can either have your statement handed to the judge or read it aloud to the court.

A witness assistance officer can help you prepare your victim impact statement.

Read more about Victim Impact Statements


The Witness Assistance Service welcomes feedback about your experience of the process.

If you have any suggestions as to how we can improve our service for witnesses and victims of crime, please send us an email to was@justice.tas.gov.au.

Giving evidence

If you are a victim of crime or a witness who has provided a statement in relation to a criminal matter, you may be asked, or required, to give evidence at a hearing or in a trial.

There are two types of notices that are provided to witnesses:

The first is a preliminary notice.  This notice is to alert you to the fact that a case is about to commence in court.  You do not have to attend court on the date listed on the notice.  The trial will be listed after this date and we will be in contact to notify you of the court date and arrange to meet with you prior to the trial.

The second is a final notice.  If you receive this notice it is essential that you appear at court on the date and time specified.  If you do not, it is possible that the judge will order a warrant for your arrest.  If there is an urgent reason why you cannot appear, it is important to tell the court and provide any supporting documentation, such as a medical certificate.

It is also possible that you may not receive a notice but simply be contacted by a staff member from the DPP's office to arrange for you to give evidence.

Please do not discuss your evidence with any other potential witness as this may impact on the case.

Witness preparation

If you are to be called as a prosecution witness, we will generally contact you to arrange a meeting at the DPP's office prior to the court date.  In some limited circumstances, meetings may be held in a location that is more convenient to witnesses.  The meeting will give you the opportunity to meet with the prosecutor and members of staff who are dealing with the case.  During the meeting we will:

  • talk to you about the process of giving evidence and answer any questions you may have about the process generally
  • ensure that the information in your statutory declaration is true and correct and obtain any further detail you may be able to provide in relation to the information contained in your statement
  • advise when you will be likely to be required to attend court.

On the day

When you arrive at court please tell court staff that you are a witness.  You will be shown to a waiting area where you will wait before you give your evidence.  You will not be allowed in the court before giving evidence.  Delays can occur, so please bring something to read or do while you are waiting.

When it is your turn to give evidence, you will be shown into the court room and directed to the witness box.  When you get to the witness box please remain standing.  Court staff will ask whether you wish to take an oath or make an affirmation to tell the truth.  The oath is a religious promise on the bible or holy book and the affirmation is a non-religious promise to tell the truth.  If taking the oath, you will be asked to say "I swear", if taking the affirmation you will be asked to say "I affirm".

The prosecutor will ask you some questions about your evidence, or the information contained in your statement(s).  This process is called examination in chief.

Next, the defence lawyer will ask you some questions.  This process is called cross-examination.

In some cases, the prosecutor will then ask you some clarifying questions.  This process is called re-examination.

It is normal to feel nervous about giving evidence.  Please take your time and listen carefully to the questions.  If you do not hear a question, please ask for it to be repeated.  If you do not understand a question, say so and ask for the question to be asked in a different way.  Try to only answer the question that you have been asked and do not go on to give any unnecessary explanation.  If you do not know the answer, please say so.

Please speak clearly and slowly.  It is important that the court hears and understands your answers to the questions.

If you are feeling very stressed or tired, you can ask the judge or magistrate for a break.

After re-examination, the judge or magistrate will tell you that you are free to leave.  You may then leave the court room.


If you wish to speak to us after you have given your evidence, please leave a message for us to contact you.  It may be that we cannot respond to your enquiry until after the trial has finished.

The judge or magistrate should always be addressed as "Your Honour".

In the Supreme Court the judge and lawyers will be wearing wigs and gowns.

Witness expenses

The court may pay limited expenses for travel, contribution to loss of work income and so on.  Please speak to a DPP staff member about this.

Special witnesses

In some cases, it may be possible to give your evidence from another room and have a support person sit with you when giving your evidence.  Please speak to the prosecutor or witness assistance staff member if you think this would be of assistance to you.  This applies particularly to children, victims of sexual assault, victims of serious violent crimes and people with a disability.

If there is any reason that you might find it difficult to understand the questions in court, such as English not being your first language, literacy issues or having a disability, please speak to DPP staff about this so that arrangements can be made to modify the questioning process.

Contact details

If you have changed, or are about to change, your contact details, it is important that you provide us with your updated details.  This will allow us to contact you to discuss any matters arising.