Rights when giving evidence at trial

When giving your evidence, the judge can decide to let you give your evidence in a way that protects you. If you were the victim of a sexual or violent offence, certain domestic abuse offences or human trafficking, or child pornography the judge can decide to put special measures in place to keep you safe.

Right to anonymity

If you are the victim of rape or sexual assault, the court can forbid the publication of information to the public which might identify you. This means that your identity will be kept anonymous.

Possibility of having the courtroom cleared

The judge can ask the public to leave the courtroom, some of the public or any particular person from the courtroom during the trial. A judge has the power to remove everyone from the courtroom, apart from journalists and people who work for the court. However, your parent, relative or friend can stay in the courtroom, as can a victim support worker who is there to support you. If the accused is under 18 years old, their parent, relative, “appropriate adult” or friend can stay in the court too.

Questions about your sexual history

These questions can only be asked if the judge has agreed to allow them in advance. If these questions are allowed, you have the right to a free legal aid barrister and solicitor to be in court to represent you.

Possibility of not having questions about your private life asked

The judge can give instructions, which are known as “directions”, about what the defence can ask you about your private life. A judge can give these instructions if there is a concern that you might feel victimised all over again, intimidated, or you might suffer in another way, and they feel it is in the interests of justice. If these directions are given, then the defence cannot ask you any question about your private life that is unrelated or irrelevant to the crime.

Possibility to give evidence by video-link

You can give your evidence from a live video-link outside of the courtroom if the judge allows it. If you are under 18 you should always be allowed to give evidence by video-link unless the judge gives a good reason why you cannot.

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