There are often lots of different court hearings before a matter is finalised.
At one of the hearings, the accused will be read their charges and must formally enter a plea.
- If they plead guilty, there is no trial and a date is set for sentencing - this means you won't have to give evidence as a witness.
- If they plead not guilty, the case is adjourned while a trial date is set.
You have the right to go to court in most circumstances. Most court cases are heard in 'open court' which means anyone can attend the hearing.
Sometimes there are reasons why you shouldn't go. Always check with the police, prosecutor or sheriff's officer.
Receiving a summons or subpoena
If the case does go to trial, you might be called as a witness for the case. This means you will be asked questions in court.
If you are needed as a witness, you will be given a letter called a summons, or a subpoena. It will tell you when and where the court case is going to be held.
If you receive a summons or a subpoena, you must go to court to give evidence.
If you are appearing as a witness, you will not be able to be in the courtroom before you give your evidence. Afterwards, you should be able to listen to the rest of the hearing.
If you feel anxious about giving evidence, you might be eligible to access court support.