Court Accompaniment and Procedures
What We Can Do In Court
WOAR’s Court Advocates provide help to child and adult sexual abuse and sexual assault survivors at all stages of the court process. The courtroom can be confusing and frightening and court procedures can be hard to understand. WOAR Court Advocates provide court accompaniment, emotional support, legal information and advocacy.
WOAR Court Advocates and Assistant District Attorneys work together to provide reassurance and support to child, teen, and adult survivors. Additionally, we can assist with counseling referrals.
You can identify WOAR Court Advocates by their ID badges. If you do not see the WOAR Court Advocate in the courtroom when you arrive, he/she may be assisting someone else. Let your ADA know that you would like to speak to an advocate and he/she will direct the advocate to you.
In some cases, family members of the victim/witness may be sequestered (removed from the courtroom) during the testimony of the victim/witness. The anxiety and stress of being away from the witness can be lessened, knowing that she or he has the comforting and caring presence of the WOAR Court Advocates.
If you have any questions please contact us!
WOAR Court Advocate – Family Court (Monday-Friday)
click here to send an email
WOAR Court Advocate – Criminal Justice Center (Thursday)
click here to send an email
Things to Know Before Coming to Court
- Bring someone with you for company and support
- Bring a favorite game, toy or stuffed animal for a young child.
- If at all possible, leave small children (other than victim/witness) at home or with a family member or friend.
- Do not plan any other activities or appointments for that day. Court cases are heard between the hours of 9am and 4pm. Your case will be one of many.
- Dress comfortably and carry sweaters even in the summer as courtrooms are often chilly.
- Bring money for lunch and snacks. You cannot eat or drink in the courtroom.
- Come prepared with a list of questions for your ADA, but understand that they are extremely busy. The WOAR Court Advocates can assist with many legal/procedural problems.
- Victim/Witnesses are eligible for a $5.00 witness fee for each day spent in court. Fees are usually given only at the end of the trial process. Ask your ADA about how to receive your fee.
Day of Court
- Everyone is subpoenaed for 10am at the Criminal Justice Center and 9am at Family Court. Getting to the court house early ensures that you will be able to speak to the ADA handling your case and have all of your questions and concerns addressed before being seen in court.
- There is a Victim/Witness Waiting Room at 1501 Arch Street, 9th There is also a Victim/Witness Waiting Room in the Criminal Justice Center but you must first check with your ADA before you use that room.
- Usually, only victims testify at the preliminary hearing. Occasionally, other witnesses are called to testify to fill in the information that the victim may not know.
- Preliminary hearings are short. They generally last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The judge has to determine if more likely than not, a crime was committed and more likely than not, it was the defendant that committed the crime.
- Victims and witness are not permitted to be in the courtroom when each other testify – they are sequestered outside the courtroom.
- There will be people in the courtroom when victims testify – police officers, lawyers, etc. The defendant will also be in the courtroom when victims and witnesses testify.
What If I Am Being Harassed?
Inside of Courthouse: If you are harassed by the defendant or his/her family or friends, you must report it immediately to the ADA or a WOAR Court Advocate.
Outside of Courthouse: If you are harassed by the defendant or his/her family or friends anywhere outside of the courtroom (for example in your neighborhood or by phone), you must contact your Special Victims Unit Officer and your ADA. Try to keep a detailed list of any and all instances of physical or verbal harassment including date and time.