Sexual Assault – what to expect in the courtroom

Surviving the trauma and devastation of a sexual assault displays an incredible kind of bravery. However, putting yourself through a court case in the pursuit of justice takes even more courage. If you’re pursuing legal action against the perpetrator then you’re probably already nervous about your day in court. The entire process can seem overwhelming and the idea of going over the details of what happened to you is both mentally draining and devastating.

Your attorney will obviously go through the legalities of what will occur on the day and what might happen – check out this sexual assault lawyer in Toronto if you’re still looking for legal representation. However it’s understandable to find the whole thing overwhelming, understanding some of the main aspects of what might happen and what to expect might help you cope with the day and make it through to the result you want.  Read on for some simple facts of what to expect in the courtroom.

Will we actually go to court?

In theory yes. However, some sexual assault cases are resolved even before they reach the courtroom. It’s in these cases, that an agreement is made between the representatives of each party, where the person accused gives a guilt plea in exchange for a lesser penalty. If the perpetrator admits their guilt then the victim of the assault will not have to testify. Something which people who have survived a sexual assault often dread.

In cases where this doesn’t occur, then you will have to testify in court. In many states there are legal shields put in place that prevent the defence team from asking questions that might require the survivor to answer personal questions about their sexual history etc. Your attorney will work hard to legally protect you in every way that they can.

I’m scared of testifying

Testifying is a frightening prospect. Going over what has happened is mentally draining. If you’re nervous about taking the stand then it’s important to speak to your attorney and legal professionals about the possibility of an advocate who can support you through this traumatic moment. Here are some tips for taking the stand.

  • Remain calm and focused
  • Try to speak as clearly as you possibly can.
  • Keep hydrated. Staying hydrated will help you to keep your mind clear and focused. It will stop you from feeling ill and help you to concentrate on your answers.
  • Don’t be afraid to pause. Allow yourself to do this. You’re talking about one of the most traumatic moments of your life, if you’re feeling overwhelmed as the judge for a break.
  • Try not to get angry. The process will be frustrating. Remember to pause and take a breath.
  • The perpetrator will likely be in the room with you, along with their supporters. Try not to look at them, focus entirely on the person who is asking you the questions.
  • If you don’t understand a question. Don’t panic. Ask them to repeat or rephrase the question for you.

Criminal proceedings will take their toll. Make sure you have a support system around you to help during this difficult time.

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