FAQ Court Processes
Do you have a question about the NSW ODPP? We cannot provide legal advice and do not discuss individual cases, but will consider inquiries about the criminal justice system and the process of matters through the court.
The ODPP resources and court listing requirements do not allow for matters to be dealt with by the same lawyer from start to finish. With the exception of child sexual assault prosecutions, where every effort is made to have the same lawyer stay with the matter from committal through to trial.
Witnesses are not called in committal proceedings unless the Magistrate considers they should be called. The Magistrate usually considers submissions by the prosecution and defence before making a decision. In relation to ‘offences involving violence’ (as described in s 94 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986) the Magistrate must be of the opinion that there are ‘special reasons’ why the victim should be called to give oral evidence (s93). Magistrates seldom find that there are special reasons.
In relation to any other witness, other than a child witness who cannot be called in committal proceedings, the Magistrate must be of the opinion that there are ‘substantial reasons’ why the witness should be called to give oral evidence (s91). Magistrates frequently find that there are substantial reasons.
Most committals proceed as ‘paper committals’ because witnesses are not called.
Arrangements can be made for you to enter and leave the court by a different door to the accused. The Police Officer in charge of your case can also assist with security. If you have concerns about your safety you must raise them with the ODPP lawyer or the Police Officer.
Most witnesses give their evidence in court in person. It is possible for witnesses to appear in court by an audio visual link.
If you are a giving evidence about a sexual assault or you are a "vulnerable witness" you have a right to give evidence in room separate to the court room.
In other cases if you wish to give evidence by video link because it is difficult for you to travel to court or because you are afraid of the accused, you need to ask the ODPP lawyer about this well in advance of the court case starting.
As a witness in a criminal case it is important that you tell the truth to the Court and co-operate with any orders the Court makes. If you deliberately fail to comply with a Court order, or you are subsequently found to have deliberately lied to the Court then you could be charged with a criminal offence.
If the trial is still running then you should contact the ODPP lawyer and let them know what you have remembered.
If you are still giving evidence, it is all right to tell the Judge that you think you have made a mistake. If you have finished giving evidence and have been excused, and the trial is still proceeding, you should contact the ODPP lawyer.
No, you may make an affirmation to tell the truth.