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Involved in a Case  Home page

Resources

You may have a lot of questions about what to expect if you have been charged with an offence. We hope the COPFS booklets listed in this page will answer some of your questions, for example what the different aspects of the court process involve and how people with learning disabilities are treated by the Scottish Criminal Justice System.


If you require further assistance or advice, please contact:

 

  • Scottish Legal Aid Board: Organisation offering help towards the costs of legal advice and representation, for those who qualify. 

 

Information about the court process

Summary Trials leaflet and translated versions

Petition procedure leaflet and translated versions

Sheriff and Jury procedure leaflet and translated versions

High Court procedure leaflet and translated versions

Sentences leaflet and translated versions ▼

Appeals leaflet and translated versions ▼

People with Learning Disability

Prosecution Policy and Guidance

The Prosecution Policy and Guidance section offers a range of resources in relation to the policy of COPFS on the prosecution procedure. It is divided into six distinct subject areas:

Easy Read publications

Victims and Witnesses

Information following a death

Comments and Complaints 

 

Victims and Witnesses

  • The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014: The central objective of the Victim and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) is to improve the experience of victims and witnesses within the criminal justice system in Scotland. One of the key provisions is that victims and witnesses have a legal right to request certain information about their case.

pdfAccess to Information Protocol

 

  • People with Learning Disabilities and the Scottish Criminal Justice System booklet

pdfIntroduction

pdfInformation about the Court

pdfInformation about Criminal Justice Social Work Services

pdfInformation about Prison Services

pdfInformation about Prosecution and Defence

pdfInformation about the Police

pdfInformation about Health and Social Work Services

 

Information following a death

pdfFinding out more about why someone died

 

Comments and Complaints

EASY READ - How to make a complaint to the COPFS

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Resources

You may have a lot of questions about what to expect as a witness in a case. The relevant COPFS booklets listed in this page will be sent to you if you are cited to be a witness, but you can read them now by clicking on the links below. We hope they help answer some of your questions, for example about what to bring to court, what will happen when you get there and what expenses you can claim and how. 

If you are eligible for the Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service you will also be sent leaflets which give more information about the various aspects of the court process.

If you require further assistance or advice, please contact:

 

COPFS Enquiry Point 

Telephone: 0300 020 3000

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Information about the court process

Guidance for Witnesses

Summary Trials leaflet and translated versions

Petition procedure leaflet and translated versions

Sheriff and Jury procedure leaflet and translated versions

High Court procedure leaflet and translated versions

Sentences leaflet and translated versions ▼

Appeals leaflet and translated versions ▼

Giving your Statement (Precognition) leaflet and translated versions ▼

Information about your legal rights as a Witness

Victims and Witnesses - Access to Information Protocol

The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014


The central
objective of the Victim and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) is to improve the experience of victims and witnesses within the criminal justice system in Scotland.  One of the key provisions is that victims and witnesses have a legal right to request certain information about their case.

pdfAccess to Information Protocol – July 2015

pdfAccess to Information Protocol - easy read version

docAccess to Information Protocol - COPFS Application Form – July 2015

docAccess to Information Protoccol - Scottish Court Service Request Form

 

Victims and Witnesses Bill


COPFS welcomes the opportunity to provide a response to the consultation paper on the Victims and Witnesses Bill. This Bill represents the commitment of the Scottish Government to improve the experience of victims and witnesses, a commitment which is shared by COPFS.

Victims and Witnesses Bill - Consultation Paper - COPFS Response

Our Commitments to Victims and Prosecution Witnesses

Our Commitment to Victims and Witnesses booklet an translated versions

How Can We Help You leaflet and translated versions s ▼

People with Learning Disability

Prosecution Policy and Guidance

The Prosecution Policy and Guidance section offers a range of resources in relation to the policy of COPFS on the prosecution procedure. It is divided into six distinct subject areas:

Scottish Government Witnesses booklets and leaflets with translated versions


Additional Scottish Government resources:

Information on other publications which you might find helpful is available on the Scottish Government Support after a crime is reported page, and their After a crime: your rights page. 

Resources

We have a range of resources which aim to inform and help victims of different types of crimes, such as sexual crime, human trafficking, domestic abuse and hate crime.

Our publications include useful guidance on various aspects of the court process in which you may be involved as a victim. 

In this section you can also find resources relating to your legal rights of appealing for a review of a decision by us not to prosecute, as well as of requesting access to certain information about your case.

The majority of the resources available on this page have been produced by our Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service. This service, which has offices around the country, offers help to child victims and victims of crime in cases of domestic abuse, hate crime, sexual crime or where it is likely that a trial will involve a jury. 

If you are eligible for our VIA service you will also be sent leaflets which give more information about the various aspects of the court process.

If you require further assistance or advice, please contact:

 

COPFS Enquiry Point 

Telephone: 0300 020 3000 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Information about different types of crime

Information about the court process

Summary Trials leaflet and translated versions

Petition procedure leaflet and translated versions

Sheriff and Jury procedure leaflet and translated versions

High Court procedure leaflet and translated versions

Sentences leaflet and translated versions ▼

Appeals leaflet and translated versions 

Giving your Statement (Precognition) leaflet and translated versions ▼

Information about your legal rights as a victim

Victims’ Right to Review


Please be aware that from 1 July 2015, you, as a victim of crime in Scotland, have the right to a review of a decision by us not to prosecute, made on or after 1 July 2015. You should if possible apply for a review within one month of the date you are informed of our decision not to prosecute. Generally you would be told of the review decision within 20 working days.

docxApplication form to request a review 

pdfLord Advocate’s Rules: Review of a Decision Not to Prosecute – Section 4 of The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014

 

Victims and Witnesses - Access to Information Protocol

The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014


The central
objective of the Victim and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) is to improve the experience of victims and witnesses within the criminal justice system in Scotland.  One of the key provisions is that victims and witnesses have a legal right to request certain information about their case.

pdfAccess to Information Protocol – July 2015

pdfAccess to Information Protocol - easy read version

docAccess to Information Protocol - COPFS Application Form – July 2015

docAccess to Information Protoccol - Scottish Court Service Request Form

 

Victims’ Rights (Scotland) Regulations 2015


pdfVictims Rights - Return of Property


COPFS welcomes the opportunity to provide a response to the consultation paper on the Victims and Witnesses Bill. This Bill represents the commitment of the Scottish Government to improve the experience of victims and witnesses, a commitment which is shared by COPFS.

Victims and Witnesses Bill - Consultation Paper - COPFS Response

Our Commitments to Victims and Prosecution Witnesses

Our Commitment to Victims and Witnesses booklet and translated versions

How Can We Help You leaflet and translated versions

People with Learning Disability

Prosecution Policy and Guidance

The Prosecution Policy and Guidance section offers a range of resources in relation to the policy of COPFS on the prosecution procedure. It is divided into six distinct subject areas:

Scottish Government Victims and Witnesses booklets and leaflets with translated versions


Additional Scottish Government resources:


Information on other publications which you might find helpful is available on the Scottish Government Victims and Witnesses publications page, and their Victims of Crime in Scotland page. 

Support Organisations

As well as the procurator fiscal, you can contact other organisations for help and support.

  • Victim Support Scotland provides practical advice, emotional support and assistance to people affected by crime. The service is free and confidential. Contact 0845 603 9213.
  • The Witness Service is based in the court building. The staff and volunteers can help witnesses and their families through the judicial process.

FAQ

Q. Why have I received a letter asking me to provide my availability to attend court?

A. You may have received a letter from us asking you to give us information on your availability to attend court to give evidence. This is either because you could be cited to attend court to give evidence in a High Court case or because your details have been provided to us as someone who may need to give evidence in a possible Sheriff and Jury case. It is important that you provide us with the information we have asked for to allow the court to do its best to avoid setting dates for a trial which do not suit the witnesses. Please note however, it is not always possible for the court to set dates which suit all the witnesses in a case. If you do not provide us with your availability when requested we may need to ask the police to contact you directly for the information.

If you have any questions about the letter please contact us at 0844 561 3382 (from a landline) or 0141 849 5919 (from a mobile).

Q. I’ve been asked to give evidence – what does this mean?

A. Witnesses play an essential part in the justice system, providing important information about court cases.

Q. Do I have to attend if I have been asked to give evidence?

A. If you have received a witness citation, you must attend. All witnesses must give evidence in court rather than have their statements read out. Failing to attend may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. The procurator fiscal or police will contact you if you are no longer needed to give evidence. Advice, assistance and support services are available for witnesses. Special arrangements can sometimes be made for elderly, disabled or vulnerable witnesses. You can also bring someone to sit in the witness room with you when you come to court. Interpreters can be arranged if English is not your first language.

Q. What happens if I can’t remember anything?

A. The questions asked by the lawyers in court should help refresh your memory. Listen carefully, take your time to answer and say if you do not understand the question or do not know the answer. Speak slowly and clearly. Witnesses must tell the truth at all times and may face criminal charges if they do not.

Q. Will I see the accused in court?

A. To ensure justice is done, it is important for the accused to attend the court hearing. Some special measures can be taken to help vulnerable witnesses, including all children, such as giving evidence from behind a screen in the courtroom or by a television link, or having a support person with you in court. You will only be in the same room as the accused when you are giving evidence.

Q. How long will I be in court?

A. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly how long a case will last. The court staff will keep you informed about the progress of your case.

Q. What if I am unwell?

A. You need to inform the Procurator Fiscal in advance and supply a medical certificate and/or a letter from your doctor explaining that you are unwell. This is sometimes called a “soul and conscience” letter.

Q. What happens if I cannot attend because I’m on holiday?

A. You should send or email copies of any booking confirmation and details of the case you are involved in to the procurator fiscal.

Q. Can I claim expenses for attending court as a witness?

A. Yes – using the form on the back of your citation, you can claim expenses for travelling to and from the court and an allowance for meals. Cash payments are only made in cases of genuine hardship or emergency. Exceptional costs such as taxi fares, air travel and overnight accommodation must by approved by the procurator fiscal in advance. If you have lost your citation, go to the procurator fiscal’s after giving evidence and you will be issued with a duplicate.

Q. What if I am working?

A. Claims can be made for loss of earnings for witnesses who are employed and self-employed. Let your employer know in advance that you have been asked to give evidence. By law, your employer must release you for the duration of the trial.

Q. Are there childcare facilities in court buildings?

A. Unfortunately, there are no childcare facilities but prosecution witnesses can claim expenses for childcare and babysitting at fixed rates. Children are not allowed in court unless they are giving evidence as a witness.

Q. Can I breastfeed in court?

A. In Scotland, it is an offence to stop anyone breastfeeding in a public place

Q. How should I dress and behave in court?

A. You should wear clothes that are comfortable. Most witnesses dress smartly. You should not disrupt the proceedings in court but can speak to the Sheriff when asked to do so. Judges and sheriffs are addressed as My Lord or My Lady.

Q. How do I get back property taken during the investigation?

A. Property is returned by the police once the case is finished and the appeal period has passed, which is usually around six to eight weeks.

Q. How do I make a complaint about COPFS?

A. COPFS has a well-established and rigorous complaints procedure. Full information is available on our website.

Q. How do I change my contact details?

A. You should write or email the procurator fiscal, quoting the reference number of the case you are involved in.

Q: English isn’t my first language, will there be an interpreter at court to help me?

A: Yes – if you need an interpreter, either for a spoken language or for British Sign Language, arrangements will be made to ensure that an interpreter will be at court to help you. We will need to know your exact language and dialect so that a suitable interpreter can be arranged for you.

Q: I can’t read English documents very well because English isn’t my first language, can you send me a written translation of your documents?

A: Yes, once we are made aware that you need translated versions of the documents we send you, we will translate all documents that we send to you. If you have any queries about our translation provisions, please contact our Enquiry Point on 01389 739 557.

FAQs

 

Q. Someone has been charged with committing a crime against me but I am worried that he will be released from custody – what can I do?

A. Sometimes an accused is kept in prison until the trial but most are released on bail. You should tell the police and the procurator fiscal about any concerns. The fiscal may be able to ask the court for special conditions to be imposed if bail is granted, such as not approaching or contacting you.

Q. The police can’t find the person who committed a crime against me – what happens now?

A. If there is enough evidence, the procurator fiscal can go to a Sheriff and ask for a warrant to be granted so that the accused can be arrested and brought to court.

Q. I have been asked to give evidence – do I have to?

A. Depending on the circumstances, some victims of crime are asked to give evidence. If you have received a witness citation, you must attend. All witnesses must give evidence in court rather than have their statements read out. Failing to attend may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. The procurator fiscal or police will contact you if you are no longer needed to give evidence. Witnesses play an essential part in the justice system, providing important information about court cases. Advice, assistance and support services are available. Special arrangements can sometimes be made for elderly, disabled or vulnerable witnesses. You can also bring someone with you when you come to court. Interpreters can be arranged if English is not your first language. The accused does not get to see your statement.

Q. Can I drop the charges against the person accused of the crime?

A. The decision to charge someone with a crime is made independently by the procurator fiscal if enough evidence is available, taking into account the wider public interest. If you have any concerns, you should contact the fiscal.

Q. Will I see the accused in court?

A. To ensure justice is done, it is important for the accused to attend the court hearing. Some special measures can be taken to help vulnerable witnesses, including all children, such as giving evidence from behind a screen in the courtroom or by a television link, or having a support person with you in court. You will only be in the same room as the accused when you are giving evidence.

Q. How long will I be in court?

A. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly how long a case will last. The court staff will keep you informed about the progress of your case.

Q. Do I need a lawyer?

A. COPFS prosecutes crime in the public interest rather than representing anyone involved in a case. Depending on the circumstances of the case, some victims will have a lawyer. COPFS operates the Victim Information and Advice service to give help and support to victims.

Q. What is a victim statement?

A. Victims or relatives of serious crimes are given the opportunity to make a written statement telling the court about the physical, emotional or financial impact of the crime. The judge must take the statement into account when deciding on a sentence. Help is available if you want to make a statement, for instance, from the COPFS Victim Information and Advice service.

Q. Will my personal details, such as my address, be read out in court?

A. Some victims can ask for their address not to be read out in court if they do not want the accused to know where they live, though it may have to be referred to if it is where the crime took place.

Q. Will a police officer be in court?

A. Only those giving evidence, though security officers are present during court hearings.

Q. The accused has been imprisoned but I don’t know where – can you tell me?

A. You should contact the Scottish Prison Service for any information about prisoners.

Q. My case isn’t being dealt with by my local procurator fiscal’s office – why?

A. It is probably being dealt with by specialist fiscals due to the type of offence that has alleged to have taken place. The specialist fiscals are experts at dealing with particular types of cases.

Q: English isn’t my first language, will there be an interpreter at court to help me?

A: Yes – if you need an interpreter, either for a spoken language or for British Sign Language, arrangements will be made to ensure that an interpreter will be at court to help you. We will need to know your exact language and dialect so that a suitable interpreter can be arranged for you.

Q: I can’t read English documents very well because English isn’t my first language, can you send me a written translation of your documents?

A: Yes, once we are made aware that you need translated versions of the documents we send you, we will translate all documents that we send to you. If you have any queries about our translation provisions, please contact our Enquiry Point on 01389 739 557.

Support Organisations

General support

Domestic abuse

Sexual abuse

Bereavement

Children

 

General support

As well as the procurator fiscal, you can contact other organisations for help and support.

  • Victim Support Scotland provides practical advice, emotional support and assistance to people affected by crime. The service is free and confidential. Contact 0345 603 9213 Monday- Friday from 8am to 8pm. 

  • The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority can compensate blameless victims of violent crime. Contact 0141 331 2726.

  • The Witness Service is based in the court building. The staff and volunteers can help witnesses and their families through the judicial process.



Domestic abuse

  • The Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline is free and confidential for women and men experiencing domestic abuse, now or in the past. Contact 0800 027 1234.

  • Scottish Woman's Aid gives information, support and a safe refuge to women and their children experiencing domestic abuse. Contact 0131 226 6606.

  • Shakti Woman's Aid is based in Edinburgh and offers support to black and minority ethnic women and their children experiencing domestic abuse. Contact 0131 475 2399.

  • Hemat Gryffe Woman's Aid is based in Glasgow and provides support and refuge accommodation to black and minority ethnic women and their children experiencing domestic abuse. Contact 0141 353 0859.

  • AMIS Abused Men in Scotland – an organisation offering support and information to male victims of domestic abuse. They have a freephone helpline 7pm - 10pm, 7 nights a week (0808 800 0024)

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Sexual abuse

Victims of sexual abuse can gain access to a number of services, through the NHS, social work departments and voluntary organisations.  

  • Survivor Scotland provides a comprehensive directory of information on how to get help, including links toorganisations for advice, support and connecting with other survivors.

  • Rape Crisis Scotland provides help and support for anyone affected by sexual violence.  The helpline is free and confidential.  Contact 08088 01 03 02 from 6pm to midnight every day.

  • Speak out Scotland (S-O-S) provides a support service for non-offending male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  They operate a telephone helpline service for support, information and signposting to appropriate services. They also provide access to specialist counselling by phone, face to face and a self help group that runs every second Saturday.  Their freephone number is 0300 400 3202.

  • The In Care Survivors Service Scotland is a partnership led by Open Secret, is a trauma informed counselling and advocacy support service for adults who suffered childhood abuse in care and their families.  There is a national confidential telephone Helpline 0800 121 6027 - currently available from 9am to 11am Monday to Friday, for those who have not yet been allocated a worker or to make a new referral.

  • NAPAC – The National Association for People Abused in Childhood is the UK’s leading national charity offering support to adult survivors of all types of childhood abuse, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect. It provides a variety of resources for survivors to take control of their healing. 

    Support line:  0808 801 0331 - free from landlines and mobiles from 10am - 9pm Monday to Thursday & 10am - 6pm Friday. Calls will not show on your bill.



Bereavement

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Children

  • Childline offers free and confidential information and support to children who feel worried, scared, stressed or just want someone to talk to. Contact 0800 1111.

Charged with an offence

COPFS treats those accused of an offence fairly and respects their rights. COPFS is an independent body and cannot give legal advice.

Anyone looking for legal advice should contact the Law Society of Scotland or the Public Defence Solicitors’Office.

Information about legal aid is available from the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

If you have any concerns about external links used on this page, please see here and here

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I have a question about my fine – can you help?

A. If you have any questions about fines, you should contact the Scottish Court Service.

Q. Can you tell me what I have been charged with?

A. Details of charges should be on any correspondence you have received. If not, you should write or email the procurator fiscal office on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Q. What is happening to my case?

A. You should get the police reference number from the police and write a letter to the procurator fiscal with any questions, quoting the police reference number. The fiscal cannot discuss anything without a police report, which can take at least 28 days to arrive.

Q. I want to change my bail conditions/details – can you help?

A. If you have any questions about bail, you should contact the Scottish Court Service.

Q. What happens if I don’t come to court?

A. You can send your plea to the court using the reply form on your complaint, or ask a solicitor to act on your behalf. If you don’t go to court in other circumstances, you may be ordered to appear personally or a warrant could be issued for your arrest. You should speak to a solicitor.

Q. What happens if there is a warrant for my arrest?

A. You must go to your nearest police office.

Q. Can I get a solicitor at the court?

A. Maybe, but there is a risk that no solicitor will be available at the court. If you really want a solicitor, you should contact one in advance.

Q. What is a direct measure? Does it mean I have a criminal conviction?

A. In some less serious cases, the fiscal can take what are called direct measures. These include: a written or verbal warning by the fiscal; a fine, or fixed penalty conditional offer, of between £50 and £300; a fixed penalty for less serious road traffic offences, sometimes also with penalty points; payment of compensation of up to £5,000 to someone who has suffered monetary loss, personal loss, alarm or distress; referral for specialist support or treatment; and, other diversions from prosecution such as reparation and mediation. You do not receive a criminal conviction.

Q. How do I get back property taken during the investigation?

A. Property is returned by the police once the case is finished and the appeal period has passed, which is usually around six to eight weeks.

Q. How do I make a complaint about COPFS?

A. COPFS has a well-established and rigorous complaints procedure. Full information is available on our website

Q. How do I make a complaint about a police officer?

A. You can contact COPFS if it is a complaint about the criminal conduct of a police officer. Otherwise, you should contact the Police Service of Scotland/Police Investigations and Review Commissioner.

Q: English isn’t my first language, will there be an interpreter at court to help me?

A: Yes – if you need an interpreter, either for a spoken language or for British Sign Language, arrangements will be made to ensure that an interpreter will be at court to help you. We will need to know your exact language and dialect so that a suitable interpreter can be arranged for you

Q: I can’t read English documents very well because English isn’t my first language, can you send me a written translation of your documents?

A: We will translate all essential COPFS documents for you – this includes details of the charge against you and our Summary of Evidence. If you have any queries about our translation provisions, please contact our Enquiry Point on 01389 739 557.

Witnesses

Attending the Court

What to expect

Letter requesting your availability

Witness Availability Letters

You may have received a letter from us asking you to give us information on your availability to attend court to give evidence. This is either because you could be cited to attend court to give evidence in a High Court case or because your details have been provided to us as someone who may need to give evidence in a possible Sheriff and Jury case. It is important that you provide us with the information we have asked for to allow the court to do its best to avoid setting dates for a trial which do not suit the witnesses. Please note however, it is not always possible for the court to set dates which suit all the witnesses in a case. If you do not provide us with your availability when requested we may need to ask the police to contact you directly for the information.

If you have any questions about the letter please contact us at 0844 561 3382 (from a landline) or 0141 849 5919 (from a mobile).

Called to give evidence

The letter that tells you where and when to go to court is called your citation. You may feel anxious about appearing in court but advice, assistance and support services are available for witnesses. Visits can sometimes be arranged in advance to help witnesses become more familiar with the courtroom. It is important not to ignore the citation. If you do not turn up at the correct time and place, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.

Special arrangements can sometimes be made for elderly, disabled or vulnerable witnesses. You can contact the procurator fiscal who called you to give evidence if you have any questions, concerns or special requirements.

Arriving at court

On the day of the case, take your citation to the court and show it to the official at the reception desk. You will be directed to a waiting room for witnesses. It is a good idea to take something with you to pass the time, such as a book or magazine. A criminal trial may last all day or for more than one day. Sometimes, a trial will not go ahead because the accused has decided to plead guilty or perhaps because other witnesses are absent. A court officer will let you know about the progress of your case and either tell you when it is your turn to give evidence or let you know when you can go.

If you have been called to give evidence for a floating trial at the High Court – you will know if this is you because “floating trial” will be printed on the top right of your witness citation – the date and place of the trial may vary. You will be told of any changes as soon as possible.

Giving evidence

When it is your turn to give evidence, a court official will call your name and show you to the witness box in the courtroom. Before you give evidence, the judge, sheriff, stipendiary magistrate or justice of the peace in charge of the proceedings will ask you to repeat a religious oath or promise to tell the truth. The court will take account of your religious beliefs.

In a criminal trial, the lawyers prosecuting and defending the accused will get a chance to ask you questions. The defence lawyers will have a copy of any statement you made to the police. The judge may also ask you questions. Occasionally, the accused can ask questions.

In giving evidence, listen carefully, take your time to answer and say if you do not understand the question or do not know the answer. Speak slowly and clearly. Witnesses must tell the truth at all times and may face criminal charges if they do not.

After giving evidence, you should not return to the witness room or discuss your evidence with other witnesses but you can stay and listen to the rest of the case.

People present in the courtroom

  • the judge or sheriff
  • the procurator fiscal or advocate depute
  • defence lawyer(s)
  • Jury
  • the clerk of court
  • the court officer
  • the accused
  • court police or security officers.

 

Courts are generally open to the public. Members of the public over the age of 14 can sit in the public area of the courtroom to watch and listen to the witnesses and lawyers. However, in some cases, the courtroom will be closed to members of the public.

At the end of the court case

Three verdicts can be reached in a criminal case. Guilty means that the evidence has been enough to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime. The judge will then decide any sentence or punishment. More information about how a judge decides a sentence and what sentences are available can be found on the Scottish Sentencing Council website.

Not proven and not guilty mean there was not enough evidence to prove the case or there were other special reasons why the accused was not found guilty. With both these verdicts, the accused is free to leave.

Claiming expenses

Using the form on the back of your citation, you can claim expenses for travelling to and from the court and an allowance for meals. Cash payments are only made in cases of genuine hardship or emergency. Exceptional costs such as taxi fares, air travel and overnight accommodation must by approved by the procurator fiscal in advance.

Claims can be made for loss of earnings for witnesses who are employed and self-employed. There are no childcare facilities at court buildings so prosecution witnesses can claim expenses for childcare and babysitting at fixed rates. If you need to organise care cover in your absence, you will be reimbursed at a fixed rate.

Disabled or elderly witnesses

Most courts provide facilities for elderly and disabled witnesses, for instance, to allow wheelchair access. Some have a loop system for people with hearing difficulties. If you have a disability or other needs, you should tell the procurator fiscal. If you are disabled or elderly and restricted in your movements, you can hire a taxi for your journey to and from court. You must agree this with the fiscal beforehand and keep receipts to claim back expenses.

Vulnerable witnesses

Some witnesses might be particularly vulnerable because of their circumstances or the nature of their evidence. A witness who has a mental health condition, learning disability or is suffering fear and distress at the prospect of giving evidence might be considered vulnerable.

The COPFS Victim Information and Advice (VIA) service may be able to help vulnerable witnesses, for instance, in cases that involve domestic abuse, hate crime, and sexual crime. Bereaved relatives in deaths that may involve significant further inquiries or court proceedings may also be offered support. All children are considered vulnerable witnesses and cannot be named by the media when involved in criminal proceedings.

Some special measures can be taken to help vulnerable witnesses, including all children, such as giving evidence from behind a screen in the courtroom or by a television link, or having a support person with you in court. Witnesses may also need additional support if English is not their first language. A booklet explaining different ways to help a vulnerable witness give their evidence, using special measures, is available from the Scottish Government website.

Please do not hesitate to ask for help from VIA staff if you believe you may be a vulnerable witness.

For further information on VIA and our on-line leaflets please visit our Publications page.

Information on other publications which you might find helpful is available on the Scottish Government Victims and Witnesses publications page, and their Victims of Crime in Scotland page.

Being a Witness booklets 

 Information for parents and carers

 

More Being a Witness booklets are available here and on the Booklets for witnesses at court on the Scottish Government website.


Please also see our
Victims and Witnesses publications page for more information. 


In addition, information on other publications which you might find helpful is available on the Scottish Government Support after a crime is reported page, and their After a crime: your rights page.