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​Promising to tell the truth

You will be asked to take an oath or an affirmation. An oath is when you swear on a bible or another religious book to tell the truth, and an affirmation is making a promise to tell the truth.

Normally the court officer will lead the witness to the witness box and then the court officer will ask them whether they wish to take an oath or an affirmation. The standard way this is done is by asking the question, "When you promise to tell the truth, do you wish to make a promise to God or one to the court?" They are both of equal value.

Once the witness has answered the court officer they will be asked to remain standing and to face the judicial officer. The court officer will recite the oath or affirmation and then ask the witness to adopt the oath or affirmation by saying the words, "I do".

Children might be asked if they know the difference between the truth and a lie.

Remainder of the hearing or trial

All the witnesses for the prosecution will be called. They all take an oath, or affirm, to tell the truth and are then questioned and cross-examined. Next, witnesses for the defence may be called. They too will take the oath, or affirm, and be questioned and cross-examined.

When all the evidence has been given to the court, the prosecution and defence lawyers may make their closing speeches.

In a summary hearing in the Local Court, the Magistrate decides if the person is guilty and decides on the sentence.

In a jury trial, the lawyers will talk directly to the jury as they argue their cases. The judge will explain the law and summarise the facts of the case to the jury. Then the judge will clarify the duties of the jury before they go to the jury room to consider their verdict.

The jury have to decide whether the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of what they have been charged with.

If the accused is found not guilty, they are free to leave the court.

If they are found guilty, they will be sentenced, usually in a few weeks time. It is the judge who decides on the sentence.