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If you're worried about giving evidence at court, you can get support to help you feel better about telling the court what you know.
Getting a letter to go to court
You'll get a letter telling you where and when you need to go to court.
The letter you'll get is called a 'citation'. This confirms you need to speak at a court case. The letter is sent by the person, often the prosecutor or a lawyer, who wants you to tell the court what you know.
You might be a witness at a:
- criminal court case (maybe you know something about a crime, or a crime happened to you)
- Children's Hearing court case (this could be about you, or maybe you know something about another child)
- civil court case (these do not involve crime, and help resolve people's disputes)
Make a visit to a court
You can visit a court to find out what it's like before you need to go – the Witness Service can help set up visits.
Visits can help you get used to what will happen in court, who will be there and where things are. Ask someone in your family if you need help sorting out a visit.
When you're at court
If you're under 18, you're automatically entitled to use certain special measures (this means the court must let you use them) such as:
- a private room with a live TV link, so that you do not need to go into the court room to speak
- someone to support you the whole time you're in court
- screens to stop you from having to see someone who has been charged with an offence in the case
You'll be asked which of these special measures you'd prefer to use. Other special measures are available too, but only if you apply to the court (the person who asked you to be a witness will apply on your behalf):
- the court can be closed – most courts are open to the public, but it can be closed so the only people in the courtroom are those who need to be there
- you can tell the court what you know without going to court – this can be done by someone reading out what you tell them, or by a video being shown of you telling someone what you know
A court can reject extra help, but will give it if they think it's needed. You'll need to speak to a solicitor or the person asking you to talk to the court to see if you can get extra help.
If you need to talk to someone about what will happen at court
You can speak to:
- Childline – 0800 1111 (24-hour service)
- Victim Support Scotland – 0800 160 1985 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm)
You can download booklets that give you information on being a witness at different types of court case:
If you're the parent of a witness
Read guidance for parents and carers of young witnesses. This explains what to expect when you go to court and where you and your child can get support.
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