Who’s who in a Crown Court?
The Public Gallery
The Crown Court is usually open to the public. People may sit quietly and listen at the back of the court.
The Witness Service Room
This is situated within the courthouse and is separate to the courtroom itself.
The Witness Service operates in every court and is run by the independent charity Victim Support. It provides support for both prosecution witnesses and defence witnesses attending court. They cannot talk about why you have been asked to be a witness, but they will be a friendly face to welcome you.
They offer a comfortable environment for witnesses to sit and read their statements before they are asked to give their evidence. On arrival at court please ask for the witness service room.
The most serious cases are heard at the Crown Court.
The Judge wears a traditional white wig and gown. It is the Judge’s job to make sure that all witnesses are able to tell the court what happened. The judge will make sure that you understand the questions.
The clerk sits at the front of the court and takes care of all the papers that are needed during the trial.
The jury is made up of twelve normal people who know nothing about the trial before they come to court. It is their job to listen to all the witnesses and then to decide whether or not the defendant is guilty.
The Defence Lawyer
It is the defence lawyer’s job to help the defendant. This lawyer also asks the witnesses questions and by presenting the defendant’s point of view, tries to show the defendant didn’t break the law.
The defendant is the person who has been accused of breaking the law. The defendant sits in the dock and does not usually to speak to you.
The witness answers questions from a place in the courtroom called the witness box. There are circumstances in which this is not suitable for witnesses. This is only in exceptional circumstances, your Witness Care Officer will fully explain if you are not giving your evidence in the usual way.
The usher wears a black robe. The usher tells you when it is your turn to come into the courtroom.
The Prosecution Lawyer
The prosecution lawyer tries to show the defendant has broken the law. He or she does this by presenting evidence and asking the witness questions about what they saw or heard or what happened to them. You will get to see the statement you have provided to the police before you are asked questions in the courtroom.
The Note Taker
This is someone who types out what everyone says.