Going to court as a witness

Witness safety

If you know the defendant and are giving evidence, there may be a concern for your safety.

You may be pressured to drop the charges or change your story.

Protection can be given to you through the courts, but there are also rules to make sure defendants do not interfere with witnesses.

Defendants and rules about witnesses

Defendants cannot do any of the following: 

  • offer you money to lie in court
  • try to stop you from going to court
  • injure you, or pay someone else to injure you
  • stalk you
  • threaten you or your property
  • act in any way which can interfere with the court case, known as perverting the course of justice.

Apply for extra protection 

There are ways to apply for extra protection under the law.

You can apply for any of the following:

  • a domestic violence order - when the defendant is a family member or in a de facto relationship with the witness. They can be arrested if they try to contact or approach you.
  • a personal violence order – when the defendant is not a family member but has committed or may commit an offence against you. They can be arrested if they try to contact or approach you.
  • bail conditions – the courts can grant special bail conditions that will ban contact with you. 

If the defendant breaks any of these rules they can be arrested may be put in prison.

Report concern for your safety

If you are directly threatened or assaulted you should report it to the police immediately. 

If you have concerns for your safety or being harassed or intimidated, you should contact the police officer in charge of your case. 

Keep evidence

If you are threatened or harassed, you should keep any evidence. 

This can include:

  • making notes of what happened and when
  • keeping records of phone calls, messages and emails.

Most people will not need protection. 

If the defendant does not know the victim or witness it is unlikely there will be any future contact.

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Last updated: 28 May 2015

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