For many people, the procedures of how to carry out some legal duties are totally obscure. We all know of some things we may have to do in out lifetime, such as Jury Duty or being a witness but often we don’t have an idea how that affects us at all. Today, we’ll explore the possibility of having to attend court as a witness for either the prosecution or defence.

You could be called into court as a witness for three different reasons:

  1. If you’re the direct victim of the crime, then you’ll become an automatic witness for the prosecuting side
  2. If you’ve witnessed a crime, then you could be a witness for either the prosecution or defence
  3. You’re called in as a character witness – you’ll probably be a witness for the defence and claim that the accused was acting completely out of character.

If you’re most likely going to be a witness for the prosecution, a witness care officer will most likely contact you. They work under the witness care unit. Their role is to always make sure you are protected, safe and feel secure. They are run by the police, and provide an intermediary between you and the crown prosecution service.gavel in court

However, if you’re going to be a witness for the defence, either a defence lawyer or one of the defence team will contact you.


The witness care officer is there to let you know the when and if you must give evidence, update you on the entire process and provide practical necessities such as transport and childcare.

You will know if you have to go to court as you will receive a court summons letter. If you receive one of these, the first steps you must take is to inform your employer, they must give you time off work, however they should know in advance as if the trial goes ahead you may not be able to give a lot of notice before you attend court.

There are two types of court letters that you could receive. Firstly, a witness warning letter, or a witness summons. The main difference between the two is that a warning doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to provide evidence, but you will be asked to attend. A witness summons, will most definitely have to provide evidence.

You can find out about all your rights as a witness by reading the witness charter on the GOV website.

For legal advice or to clear any questions please call us on  0116 2999 199 or alternatively you can email us at


  • Matthew Holly

    hi< i have been asked by the environmental heath to attend court as witness, they have gave me a summons to appear at crown in Bristol in regards a case in which i gave them information on but i don't want to go to court as witness, is there a way of getting out like retracting my statement?