What happens next?
After you have answered all the questions, your job is finished. The judge or magistrates will tell you when you can go. In a Magistrates’ or Youth Court, when the magistrates have listened to everyone, they go out of the court to a private room. They talk together and decide whether or not the defendant is guilty. In the Crown Court, it is the jury that decides whether or not the defendant broke the law. When all the evidence has been heard, the members of the jury leave the courtroom. They talk about what they have heard and come to a decision. If the jury is sure that the defendant broke the law, they tell the judge that the defendant is guilty. The magistrates or the judge then decide how to punish the defendant for what he or she has done.
Thank you for being a witness
Witnesses are very important. Our justice system relies on them to come to court and tell the truth about what happened. Remember that each witness is only part of the system. When you are a witness, you are not responsible for what the court decides.
If the magistrates or jury think that the defendant did not break the law, or if they are not sure, they must say that the defendant is not guilty. If this happens, don’t assume that they did not believe you or the other witnesses. Perhaps they could not be sure what happened. If the defendant is not guilty, he or she is free to leave the court.
What happens after the trial?
The Witness Care Officer who asked you to go to court will contact you a couple of days after the trial to let you know what happened. Sometimes the magistrates or judge will not be able to decide straight away how to punish a defendant who is found guilty. The magistrates or judge will ask for a report to be completed about the defendant to help them decide on the punishment. The Witness Care Officer will tell you if this is what’s happened and will contact you again to let you know when the defendant has been punished.