Attending court as a witness or attending a hearing related to an alleged crime committed against you, family member, friend etc, can be daunting. The following information will explain the court process, your rights and additional services that can be offered.

Notification by Police

Victims of crime and other prosecution witnesses will generally be contacted by the police if they are required to attend court as a witness. 

 

Court Preparation

The Victim Support Service can assist in preparing you for court. They can explain the court processes and show you around the court if necessary.
 
The South Australian Victims of Crime Co-ordinator website offers some useful information for victims of crime and prosecution witnesses regarding how to deal with the media. Information / assistance specific to homicide is available on the Witness Assistance Service website within the publication, Unlocking the Homicide Maze.
 
 

Victim rights

A declaration of principles governing the treatment of victims in the criminal justice process exists.
 
The declaration can be found in the Victims of Crime Act 2001 (SA).
 

Victim Support Service Inc

Victim Support Service is a community-based, not-for-profit organisation in South Australia, which offers a comprehensive range of professional services for people (individual crime victims, their families, friends and the wider community) who have suffered as a result of a criminal offence.
 
Refer to the Victim Support Service website for a list of Adelaide and regional office locations and other services available for victims of crime / prosecution witnesses.
 
 

Victim Impact Statements

Victim Impact Statements provide victims of crime the opportunity to inform the court of any injury, loss or damage that resulted on themselves and their families from the offence.
 
This information can include physical, emotional and financial injuries, losses or damage. There is some information that should not be included in a Victim Impact Statement (for example, suggesting sentences to the judge).
 
The Victim Impact Statement Information Booklet (including form) can be obtained on the South Australian Victims of Crime Co-ordinator website, or by contacting Victim Support Service.
 
 

Vulnerable Witness Provisions

Applications for vulnerable witness provisions must be made to a magistrate or judge through a prosecutor. The magistrate or judge has the discretion to make, revoke, vary or deny the use of vulnerable witness provisions.
 
The range of special provisions which might be available for victims of crime and other prosecution witnesses includes the use of closed circuit television, a screen, court companion, and closed court. To qualify for vulnerable witness provisions, victims of crime and other prosecution witnesses must fall into one of the following categories:

 

  • Under 16 years of age 
  • Has an intellectual disability
  • Victim of an alleged sexual offence
  • At some special disadvantage.  

For more information about vulnerable witness provisions refer to protection of witnesses or contact the Sheriff’s Office. To apply for vulnerable witness provisions, you must speak to the prosecutor assigned to the case for which you are appearing in court.

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Disabled Access / Other Special Needs

Courts in South Australia are able to accommodate access and other special needs (for example, hearing or visually impaired) of victims of crime and prosecution witnesses who are required to appear in court. Victims of crime wanting to attend court, without being required to appear as a witness, might also be accommodated. Requests to accommodate special needs of victims of crime / prosecution witnesses will need to be made in advance.

For further information or assistance refer to the prosecutor assigned to the case for which you are attending court or contact the relevant Court Registry.

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Compensation

If you have suffered as a result of a crime you may be entitled to make a claim for the injuries sustained. Visit the Victim Support Services website for further information.

If you are a witness for the prosecution in a criminal trial, you are entitled to claim witness fees. You can claim for loss of wages for attending court and for travelling expenses. The Sheriff’s Officer will help you to fill out a claim form. A cheque will be prepared by court staff, and sent to you in the mail.

If you are a witness for the defence in a criminal trial, it is up to the party calling you to cover your expenses.

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Waiting Facilities

In most courts victims of crime and prosecution witnesses can access a private waiting area. Access to the private waiting area will need to be arranged in advance to check that it is available. To arrange a private waiting area contact the court in which your case will be heard.

For further information or assistance refer to the relevant Court Registry.

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Personal Safety

If you are concerned about your personal safety when attending court, including the limits of your intervention or restraining order, contact Victim Support Service or consult with the Sheriff’s Office in the court you will be attending.

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Protection of Witness

Sometimes special arrangements can be made for taking evidence from a witness in order to protect that witness from embarrassment or distress, or to protect him or her from being intimidated by the atmosphere of a courtroom, or for any other proper reason.

The court may, for example, make orders of the following kinds: 

  • an order that the evidence be given outside the courtroom and transmitted to the courtroom by means of closed circuit television;
  • an order that a screen, partition or one-way glass be placed to obscure the witness's view of a party to whom the evidence relates or some other person;
  • an order that the witness be accompanied by a relative or friend for the purpose of providing emotional support. (This applies to young children as witnesses also).

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Spouse or close relative as a witness

In criminal proceedings a close relative of a person charged with an offence is both competent and compellable to give evidence, except that they may apply to the court for exemption from the obligation to give evidence against the accused.

For a court to grant exemption, wholly or in part, from the obligation to give evidence against the accused, it must be satisfied that, if the prospective witness were to give evidence against the accused, there would be a substantial risk of:

  • serious harm to the relationship between the prospective witness and the accused
  • serious harm of a material, emotional or psychological nature to the prospective witness

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