Taking an oath
Before giving Material presented to a court to prove or disprove a fact. It can include what witnesses say as well as documents and other objects. in An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate., witnesses must take an A person’s promise when they swear to tell the truth in court, or when signing an affidavit. A person taking an oath places one hand on the Bible or other holy book to demonstrate how seriously they take their promise. See also affirmation. (i.e. a promise to tell the truth). A person under 14 who does not understand the oath may give evidence (though not on oath) if they understand the duty of speaking the truth and are capable of responding rationally to questions.
The rule that required a child’s evidence to be corroborated (i.e. confirmed by independent evidence) has been abolished. A judge must not warn or suggest to a A panel of people selected from the general public to decide whether an accused in a criminal case is guilty or not guilty, or to decide questions of fact and the amount to be awarded as damages in civil cases. that the law regards children as unreliable witnesses (s 165A Evidence A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. 2008 (Vic)).
Giving evidence via CCTV and other available arrangements
For witnesses under 18 (and certain other witnesses) in court cases about a sexual A criminal act prohibited by state or commonwealth criminal law. An offence is either a summary offence (minor) or an indictable offence (serious)., family violence or certain other serious offences, arrangements can be made to help the A person who can provide direct information based on their own knowledge about a relevant fact, and appears in court to give evidence about it. In some cases a witness may provide an affidavit or deposition setting out their evidence if they are not able to attend court.. For example, under section 360 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic), the court may:
- permit evidence to be given in a place other than the courtroom via closed-circuit television (CCTV);
- use screens to remove the A person who has been charged with a criminal offence or against whom a civil action has been brought. from the witness’s direct line of vision;
- permit a person to be beside the witness while they are giving evidence, for the purpose of providing emotional support;
- permit only persons specified by the court to be present while the witness is giving evidence;
- require legal practitioners not to robe;
- require legal practitioners to remain seated while examining or cross-examining the witness.
In court cases about a sexual offence or certain serious offences to the person, evidence in chief of a witness (i.e. the questions a prosecutor asks a witness) who is under 18 may take the form of a video recording (s 362).
Support for witnesses
Information about support services for witnesses can be obtained from Court Network (see ‘Contacts’ at the end of this chapter).