Feeling vulnerable and fearing for your safety is completely normal for victims and witnesses of crime. If you are anxious about coming to court, talk to the CDPP prosecutor or your Witness Assistance Service (WAS) officer about your concerns.
Sometimes special arrangements can be put in place to help you give your evidence.
Different courts also have dedicated support services to help you. Your CDPP prosecutor may be able to give you advice about available services, or you can seek more information from the WAS.
What kind of intervention orders are available to protect me?
In certain situations, courts are able to make orders to try to stop the defendant from contacting you. These are designed to:
- stop a defendant from stalking a victim or witness
- restrict a defendant’s contact with others or their movement while on bail
- restrict a defendant who has been convicted of an offence from contacting a victim of the crime.
Depending which state or territory you live in, and the nature of your safety concern, these orders might be called different things and take different forms.
|If you are concerned about your immediate safety or the safety of others, you should always contact the police in the first instance|
However, you can also let the CDPP prosecutor or your WAS officer know afterwards, and we will help and advise you as best we can.
What are Vulnerable Witness Protections?
It is normal to feel anxious or intimidated about going to court to give evidence. You may be scared about seeing the defendant, or hold concerns about your own or your family’s safety.
- If you are worried about giving evidence, please talk to the prosecutor to let them know.
It is sometimes possible for special arrangements to be made to reduce the stress of giving evidence. These measures might include:
- giving evidence from somewhere outside the courtroom by video link
- restricting contact with the defendant, or members of the public, while you give your evidence
- allowing a support person to be present in the courtroom while you give your evidence
- removing members of the public from the courtroom while you give your evidence
The options available to you will depend on a number of factors, including in which court your case is being heard, the type of court you are attending, and your personal circumstances and concerns.
Ultimately, it is up to the judge or magistrate to decide whether any of these special arrangements can be made. The prosecutor can make a request on your behalf, but there is no guarantee the court will agree to implement special measures.
If you are a victim of certain types of crimes, the law may also prohibit other people, including the media, from publishing your name or otherwise identifying you. If you would like advice about whether this applies to you, please discuss it with your prosecutor.
What are bail conditions?
Depending on the alleged offence, the court may decide to place certain bail conditions on the defendant accused. Many of these are designed to improve the safety of victims and witnesses. For example, a common bail condition is that the accused must not directly or indirectly contact a victim or witness. This means they can’t:
- approach you
- phone or talk to you
- use any type of social media or text messaging application to contact you
- email, post a letter, or ask someone else to contact you on their behalf
A ‘no contact’ bail condition is also designed to prevent the accused trying to influence the evidence you might give to police in your statement, or during the trial.
If at any stage you are concerned about your immediate safety, please contact the police.
The CDPP is not a 24-hour agency and has no law enforcement powers. While you can let your prosecutor/WAS officer know if you feel your safety has been compromised we cannot act on this information immediately. For example, if the accused contacts you, or even tries to contact you, and you are concerned for your safety, contact the police in the first instance
What happens when charges are laid?
Laying charges is the first step in the prosecution process. When a person is charged with an offence they will either be arrested to appear in court, or they will be given a notice requiring them to attend court at a later date. When they attend court, they will either be remanded in custody or granted bail.
How will I know if charges have been laid?
Victims can contact the CDPP to ask when charges have been laid. You can also ask for the date matters related to the charges will be heard in court. Victims can contact the WAS or the prosecutor looking after the case.
What is the role of the police?
The police investigate whether someone has broken the law or not. They are responsible for collecting all the evidence, which includes your statement, and pass it to the CDPP in a brief of evidence.
In some Commonwealth offences, investigations are done by specialist teams in different government departments. Often they will have the support of the police, but departmental investigators may also be authorised to take statements and prepare a brief of evidence for the CDPP.
What support services are available to help me?
- Australian Capital Territory: Victim Support ACT
- New South Wales: Victims’ Services, Victims and Witnesses of Crime Support, Community Restorative Centre, Salvation Army
- Western Australia: Victims Support Service
If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you may be able to access dedicated services at courts to help you. Talk to your prosecutor or WAS officer if you would like more information.