Write down the names of the police officers in charge of your case, the name of the Crown prosecutor, dates you had meetings and other important info you may want to remember as you go through the court process.

You should only talk about your feelings and not about the evidence.  If you talk to someone about the crime, you may be asked about that on the witness stand and the person you talked to may be subpoenaed as a witness.

For sexual assault or other crimes, it is important to know that personal diaries or information given to a counsellor, can be subpoenaed to court.  You should only draw or write about your feelings, not about evidence.

Doing something new like going to court may feel scary.  If you are fearful about going to court, it is important to talk about your feelings.

In some special cases, courts protect young witnesses from having to look at the accused while they are on the witness stand.

The Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff can show you inside the courtroom and also give you some information about the court rules.

The Crown prosecutor’s office will usually pay for out-of-town travels.

An interpreter can be arranged to help you at meetings and when you testify.

If you have children, try to arrange childcare since court is not the best place for kids and the court staff does not provide childcare.  If you are pregnant or nursing a baby, speak to the investigating police officer or Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff about your needs.

It is often helpful to have someone sit with you and keep you company while you are waiting.  Your support person should be someone who is helpful during stressful times.  Your support person should not be someone who is also required to testify.

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Witness Tips – Before Court

It is a good idea to get some information about what to expect before you go to court.  Often there are delays and you may also need to come to court a few times for your case.  Here are some tips to help you prepare.

  • Keep an Info Pack.    Click here to print the Info Pack.

  • Keep all your court documents in an envelope in a safe place.

  • Talk about your feelings with someone you trust.  

  • You may want to show your thoughts and feelings about going to court by drawing a picture, writing a poem or some other personal way.  

  • Talk to the Victim/Witness Assistance staff or the police officer about testifying in court.  

  • If someone is making you afraid to go to court by saying or doing something like following you, making threatening phone calls or threatening signals, it is important to tell the police officer right away.

  • Talk to the Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff or Crown prosecutor about the help that can be arranged for witnesses under the age of 18.  

  • Tell the police or Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff if you move, go to a different school or get a new phone number.

  • Visit the courtroom before you testify.  

  • Tell the Crown prosecutor or the Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff if you are pregnant or have any special needs due to a disability, or an illness such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.

  • Tell the investigating police officer if you need transportation or a place to stay to attend court far from where you live.  

  • Ask the Crown prosecutor or the police officer where to meet them to review your information before going into the court.

  • If you have a job, your employer must give you the time off to attend court.

  • Tell the Crown prosecutor, police officer, or the Victim/Witness Assistance Program staff, if you do not understand at least one of Canada’s official languages (French or English).  

  • Plan to be at court for the whole day.  No one knows exactly when you will begin your testimony or how long it will take.  

  • Think about bringing a support person with you to court.  

  • Take time in the days before court to do something you enjoy.  Just going for a short walk can help you feel better.

  • Plan ahead to do something calming and relaxing the night before court.

Note:  Many of the Canadian courts have a Victim/Witness Assistance Program.  You can check our Provincial and Territorial Links for the services available in your province/territory or call a courthouse in your area.

» 1  Before Court « » 2 Day of Court » 3 On the Witness Stand » 4 After Court