Taking the case to court
The case will go to court if the Law Offices Department decides that there is enough evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute the person accused. The Police do not decide the outcome of the case; they collect the evidence and pass it onto the Law Officer’s Department.
Upon signing the statement you provide to the Police, you are also agreeing you will attend court as a witness if required. This does not mean that you will have to attend every hearing of the case and you will not have to attend court if the defendant pleads guilty and no trial takes place. If, however, the defendant says they are not guilty of the offence and there is a trial, depending on the evidence you have provided in your statement, you may be called to give evidence.
Some trials can take place quite quickly; others can take place a considerable time after the event. We will let you know when and where to attend if required and support you every step of the way. If you have been a victim of Sexual Assault or Domestic Abuse you may have an Independent Domestic or Sexual Abuse Advisor who will attend court with you.
If the Law Officers Department decides to prosecute, and the defendant pleads guilty, you will not have to go to court. If the defendant pleads ‘Not Guilty’ or denies part of the offence, you might have to give evidence. We understand that attending court can be a daunting prospect but we will do all we can to put you at ease.
Your allocated Victim Advocate, will tell you if you have to go to court to give evidence. Prior to a trial date being set, they will contact you and complete a needs assessment to discuss any particular help or support you might need.
Your allocated Victim/Witness Advocate can request for you to visit the courtroom before you give your evidence and they will arrange for the Prosecutor to meet you in advance of the trial giving you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. If you are very worried about giving evidence, you may be able to request some additional support when giving evidence, called Special Measures.
There are different options available to help some witnesses give their evidence. They are called Special Measures and the Court may order them when they believe that assistance is needed to improve the quality of the evidence given by a witness. Special measures are tailored to the needs of a victim or witness and can be anything that helps the witness to give evidence.
They can include things, such as the use of live video links, to give evidence away from the court building or the giving of evidence from behind a screen so that you cannot see the Defendant and they cannot see you.
All children under the age of 18 are eligible for special measures if the court decides they are appropriate. Witnesses over 18 may be eligible for special measures if:
- they suffer from a mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health (Jersey) Law 2016;
- they have a significant impairment of intelligence or social functioning;
- they have a physical disability or are suffering from a physical disorder;
- they are expected to be off the Island at the time of the trial; or
- the court is satisfied that quality of the evidence to be given by them is likely to be diminished because of fear or distress about giving evidence.
If you are concerned about giving evidence and believe you might benefit from Special Measures, it is important you tell us as soon as possible so that an application can be made to the court on your behalf.
On the day you come to court to give your evidence you will be given somewhere safe to sit until you go into the courtroom. We can also arrange for a member of our team to attend court and support you if required. It is not possible to tell you how long you might be in court, as every case is different, but the Court Usher will let you know when you can leave. We have two courts in Jersey; the Magistrate’s Court and the Royal Court, your allocated Victim or Witness Advocate will tell you which Court building you will need to go to.