During a trial

When a defendant pleads ‘not guilty’, the courts have to decide whether or not that person committed the crime they are accused of. These potentially life-changing decisions are made every day, and it’s a big responsibility for everyone involved, including victims and witnesses of the crime who have to give evidence.

It’s no surprise that giving evidence can be a difficult experience for anyone. You may be asked to talk publicly about unpleasant, upsetting or personal events – things you might not even feel comfortable saying to a friend or family member.

Testing evidence by cross-examination

Once you have been questioned by the Crown Prosecutor or Crown Advocate, you may be asked a number of questions by the defendant’s lawyer. This is called cross-examination. Being cross-examined can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a personal attack on you, simply a defence lawyer doing their job.

If the questioning is too aggressive or inappropriate, the trial judge or magistrate can intervene to stop it.

Support during your trial

Contact the Citizens Advice witness service if you’d like information or support during your trial at court.