The courtroom

Court cases can be long and complicated. They're not like on TV. This section gives you practical information about everything you need to know, from what to wear and when to arrive, to what happens in a typical courtroom and who will be there.  

You can also watch our video on going to court and who’s who in the courtroom.

Courtrooms can look very different depending on which court you’re attending.

  • Criminal trials are held in the Supreme, County or District Court, where there will often be a jury, but in the Local or Magistrates’ court, hearings are held without a jury.

Below we explore what a typical courtroom looks like, and what different people do.

Courtroom image

Judge or magistrate

is in charge of the courtroom and sits at the high bench in front of everyone. They make sure the trial is run fairly, and decide the sentence.


is made up of 12 people who listen to the evidence presented in a criminal trial, and decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.

CDPP prosecutor

explains the charges to the court and presents evidence against the defendant.

Defence lawyer

represents the person charged with breaking the law.


is the person accused of breaking the law. If they’re in custody, they will be in a secure area called the dock, with a police officer or corrective services officer sitting nearby. If they’re not in custody, they may sit near their lawyer.

Victim or witness

tells the court what happened to them, or what they heard or saw. Some witnesses, such as children and young people, may give evidence via a video link.

Support person

might be a family member, friend or counsellor, who has helped the victim or witness prepare for court. They go to court with them on the day.

Public gallery

is where your support person, family members, friends, journalists or other members of the public can sit

Court officer/bailiff

helps the judge and people coming into the court. They administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses.

Court reporter

records what happens in court. Some courts record trials electronically.

Corrective services officer

provides security to people in custody.

Judge’s associate

helps the judge with documents and exhibits.


helps the court by translating what is said to a witness, and what the witness says.


refers to journalists, who often attend court to report on what’s happened.

Police officer

may be asked to give evidence about their involvement in the case.


may be a police officer, or someone from a government agency that investigates specific types of crime related to Commonwealth laws. For example, the Australian Taxation Office has specialist staff to investigate tax fraud.

More information