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After the verdict: guide for victims and witnesses

This guide explains what happens at the end of a court case and afterwards. It contains information relevant to victims and witnesses.

Victim (Impact) Statements

If you are a victim, you may be able to complete a written Victim (Impact) Statement. It tells the court how the crime affected you and continues to affect you.

Any victim statement provided will be read in court in the event of a guilty verdict or guilty plea. This enables your experiences to be taken into account during sentencing.

Read more about Victim (Impact) Statements.

Sentencing

If the accused is found guilty, the judge, sheriff or justice will either:

  • pass sentence (decide punishment) straight after the verdict
  • delay sentencing until a later date – this allows time to gather information that will help decide the sentence

If sentencing is delayed, the judge will decide what happens to the accused in the meantime. They can be:

  • remanded – kept in custody
  • granted bail
  • ordered to return to court on a certain date

Fines

If the sentence involves a fine, this will be dealt with by the courts.

The offender can pay their fine here.

Custodial sentences

If the accused is sent to prison or a young offenders’ institution (YOI), this sentence will begin immediately.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) deals with prison and YOI enquiries. The SPS have information for people affected by crime.

Other sentences

See our guide to Scotland’s criminal justice system for other types of sentence. These include:

  • absolute discharge
  • admonition
  • community payback orders
  • compensation orders
  • disqualifications
  • other court orders

Appeals

If the accused is found guilty, they may be able to appeal against:

  • their conviction – the verdict
  • their sentence – the type of punishment
  • their conviction and their sentence

If the accused submitted a guilty plea, they can only appeal against their sentence.

Only prosecutors or convicted persons can lodge an appeal:

  • prosecutors, if they think the sentence was too lenient
  • the accused, if they think their sentence was too severe
  • victims have a right to review – read more

Appeals can be refused, allowed, or allowed in part. Just because an appeal is made, this does not mean it will be successful. In many cases, the original verdicts and sentences are upheld at appeal.

If you’re a victim, talk to your VIA contact if you have concerns about a verdict or sentence.

Request case information

If you’re a witness, you may not want to know what happens in the case after the verdict. If you do, follow our process to access further information.

If you’re a victim, our Victim Information and Advice service (VIA) can update you about sentencing.

Claiming expenses

If you have to attend court as a witness you can claim expenses.

See our guide on expenses claims, forms, and allowances.

Returning property

As part of the case, the police may have taken items that belong to you. Where possible, any legal property may be returned after the trial.

This may take some time. Some items cannot be returned due to damage. We may also need to keep items back until further notice. For example, if an object continues to be an important piece of evidence in another case.

Parole and release from prison

If the accused is sent to prison, they may serve a shorter period than the sentence the court gave them.

Read more about parole and conditions of early release at the Scottish Prison Service.

If you are a victim, see our page on the Victim Notification Scheme which can:

  • keep you updated on the status of any imprisonment
  • give you the chance to make representations to any parole process

Victim safety and ongoing support

Being a victim or witness in a court case is important for justice but can be a difficult experience. You may want practical advice and ongoing support after the verdict.

See Victim Support Scotland’s guidance on:

  • victim safety
  • speaking to a trained supporter
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