This page explains what a court is and contains information about the different people you may see in the courtroom.
For a picture of what the courtroom may look like and where the different people - including you - are located in the courtroom.
The court is the building where people decide whether someone has or has not broken the law.
Sometimes it is the
magistrate, in a Local Court who decides. Sometimes it is a
jury in a District or Supreme Court, who decides with a judge who helps them with the law. Sometimes there is just a
judge who will decide.
Below are descriptions of all the people and features in our courtroom tour - people and features you may come across when you go to court.
The accused person is the person who was arrested and charged for the crime. The accused person can represent themselves, but can also have a solicitor or barrister represent them. The accused will usually sit in a section called the dock, or behind the bar table.
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
This is a provision available to child witnesses and adult complainants in sexual assault matters so they can give evidence to the court from a remote location. In special situations CCTV is used for adult witnesses at the discretion of the court. Visit the CCTV room
Some court staff tape record the hearing and some write down or type what is being said.
Court staff help the judicial officer and people coming into the courtroom. Some court staff help with the paperwork and direct people to where to sit inside the courtroom. Court staff give the
defence lawyer is the solicitor or barrister representing the accused person. There are sometimes several defence lawyers representing the accused person.
In the District and Supreme Courts the defence barrister may wear a wig and gown.
The defence lawyer speaks to the judicial officer and ask questions of the witnesses. The defence sit at a table in the middle of the courtroom called the bar table.
If there is more than one accused person, sometimes there will be more than one solicitor or barrister who will ask questions.
Sometimes, an interpreter will help a witness or the accused person understand what is being said by translating the question and answer into another language or other form of communication such as Auslan. Interpreters are arranged by the court.
A person who helps the judge in court with documents used in the case, such as exhibits.
In the Local Court and the Children's Court, the judicial officer is called a
magistrate. The magistrate wears a black gown.
In the District Court and Supreme Court, the judicial officer is called a
judge. The judge wears a wig and purple or red gown. You call a judicial officer "Your Honour" when you are in court.
The judicial officer sits behind a large desk at the front of the courtroom called the bench. The judicial officer makes sure the hearing is run fairly. If the accused person is found guilty the judicial officer decides the penalty.
In the District Court and Supreme Court, sometimes there is a jury. The sheriff officer brings the jury into court and takes them out of court. The jury is 12 people from the community who listen to the evidence. The jury decides whether the accused person is guilty or not guilty of each charge.
Sometimes, journalists from the media (newspapers and TV) are allowed to sit and listen in court. The media are allowed to write down what is said in court and sometimes will write this in the newspaper or report it on the news.
In the Local Court, the prosecutor is a specially trained police officer. The prosecutor does not wear a police uniform. Sometimes, the prosecutor is a solicitor from the
In the District and Supreme Court, the prosecutor is a solicitor or barrister from the ODPP. If the prosecutor is a barrister they will wear a wig and gown.
Prosecutors represent the State in criminal cases.
People from the community are sometimes allowed to watch and listen in court. They sit at the back of the court in a section called the public gallery. People in the public gallery are not allowed to talk or interrupt the court.
The sheriff's officer is responsible for security at the court. The sheriff officer will sometimes scan people when they come to court. This is to check for anything that is not allowed in court.
Sometimes a witness will have a
support personwho can sit near them in the courtroom. The support person doesn't answer the questions being asked by the prosecutor or defence.
The witness is a person who knows something about the case. The prosecutor and the defence ask the witness questions. The witness gives evidence about what they know. Sometimes there is more than one witness. Witnesses are not allowed to talk about the case to other witnesses.
Witnesses sit in a seat called the witness box, and speak into a microphone. The microphone is there to record the voices, it may not make your voice louder. Sometimes a witness gives their evidence using
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV).
The witness is sometimes allowed to stay inside the courtroom after they have finished giving evidence.