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

Feedback

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.