Preparing for court

In order to make court a less daunting experience, the following information may be useful in preparation for coming to court as a witness or victim.

A woman offering support to a victim a with court familiarisation visit.

If you are required to attend court, you will receive notification of the date and time at which you must attend. This may come as a document from the Procurator Fiscal’s office (citation), text message, phone call or a visit from the police advising you of your required attendance. You are required by law to attend and must comply with the request. It is best to:

  • Carefully read the instructions provided with the notification
  • Bring the notification with you on the trial date. If you don’t have one or lose one, you can request a replacement from the Procurator Fiscal’s office.

If you have any concerns about your ability to attend court on the specified date, then contact the Procurator Fiscal’s office, using the number provided on your notification as soon as possible to discuss your concerns.

Check that you know where the court is and how to get there (you can find more information on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website).

If you are travelling by car, it might be helpful to plan where you will park before coming to court. Please be aware that parking costs are not included in expenses.

The court day begins around 9.30am and will ordinarily finish around 4:00pm. You will need to arrive at the time stated on your notification/citation. You also cannot leave the court until you are dismissed by a court official.

If you are required to attend court into the afternoon, you will be informed of when you are able to leave the court building to go for lunch. Witnesses will typically be given around an hour for lunch, but a court official will confirm the time with you.

There is no pre-arranged time at which you will be called to give evidence and you should plan to be available for the whole day. Normally, if you are participating in a trial by jury, it is possible that you could be required to attend for more than one day. The court will be able to advise you of this at the time.

There is no provision for childcare in court. Childcare is not the responsibility of the court or of the Victim Support Scotland volunteers. You will need to arrange childcare before attending court. If you are struggling to arrange childcare, then contact the number provided on your notification/citation for the Procurator Fiscal to seek advice as soon as possible.

Courts are non-smoking buildings. You may be able to leave the waiting room to go outside to smoke, but you must get permission from a court official before doing so.

Some courts may have tea and coffee-making facilities and magazines to read, but this is not true of every court. Some courts will also allow you to bring your own refreshments. Please check with your local witness service to find out about arrangements in the court you are attending.

You should wear clothes that are comfortable. Most witnesses dress smartly. Do not turn up wearing football colours or clothing that may be deemed offensive to other court users. You are not permitted to wear a hat in court.

You may wish to bring some reading materials or other form of entertainment with you, since you could be waiting for some time to give evidence. Most courts will allow you to use mobile phones before giving evidence, but you must remember to switch your phone off before you go into the court room.

You may want to look at our frequently asked questions for more information about attending court and what to expect. You can also contact Victim Support Scotland’s Witness Service at the court or use the number on your notification/citation to contact the court.

You can contact us by using one of the methods below.

Whoever you are and whatever the crime, we’re here to help