If you are accused of Historical Abuse you need to ensure you are represented by someone with experience of defending these sort of cases .
Historical Abuse Cases are the most difficult and challenging cases to defend . It requires a methodical and skilled approach to the assessment of the evidence . If you are told by a lawyer all you can do is say you didn’t do it – you are being badly represented .
Unfortunately you have little time to get your head around what is happening to you , you need to be focussed right from the first meeting with the Police who will want to interview you . These days this is generally as a volunteer – you are unlikely to be arrested .
After the interview you will no doubt have to wait many weeks or months before a decision and this can be very difficult to deal with . It is to be hoped you may not face charges but you should not assume that
If charged that is when the real work has to begin .
We have created some documents to assist you :
These days the first you may know about facing a serious allegation will be a call or message from the police asking you to make contact with the police, the old days of a knock on the door and facing arrest are not now how these cases usually start.
Of course you may have been accused of the allegations you are facing (whether it is a family member, former partner/children or someone you knew in years gone by) in the past . Nonetheless that will not reduce the shock and worry you will feel from that first police contact.
It is important at this crucial moment to keep a level head and concentrate on what you need to do. In the first place it is vital to note that no matter how friendly the approach is, and the officer might be simply inviting you to come down and “chat about the allegations”, this is a serious investigation and one you must take seriously.
Your absolute first step is to get advice. Of course, you will need to be represented by a Solicitor and we will return to this issue shortly.
But that is not the only advice you need. You need support and there are many important organisations that can help you such as:
You might also find more local support groups and the strength and support this will give you will be invaluable.
As we have said representation at the interview by a Solicitor is essential and it is important that you make sure that the Solicitor you select is one who has good experience in historical allegations. Understanding how these cases are investigated, what the police are seeking and how they will further those objectives is pivotal making your choice of representative crucially important.
So do make enquires and ensure that you get someone you can trust to protect your interests.
The First Contact
If you have not yet arranged the interview now is the time to do so. Give yourself enough time to get your head in the right place and make arrangements for your representative to be available.
This really depends on whether you have any idea who is making the allegations but if you do then it may be helpful to think about the events that occurred that may have led to this. Sometimes writing down a chronology may help you get events in order or make some notes.
These may be shared with your Solicitor, but it is not advisable to take them into the police interview because if you refer to them, they may become an exhibit.
The Day of the Interview
On the day of the interview you will meet with your Solicitor and then go into the police station. If you have received advance written disclosure your solicitor will have discussed it with you in advance but if not as often happens verbal disclosure will be given to your Solicitor before the interview starts.
Important note – advance disclosure will only be given generally if you are represented which is why you should always attend one of these interviews with a Solicitor.
Once disclosure has been given you will have a private discussion with your solicitor where the allegations will be explained, and your solicitor will be able to offer advice as to your best approach to the polices questions.
Generally this will be to answer the questions, put in a written statement (a statement of your defence followed by you not answering questions) or making no reply to the police questions .
The solicitor will advise on the best approach but very often it will be in your best interest to answer questions so you can strongly advance your defence.
You will be cautioned at the start of the interview and the caution which says:
“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
What does the caution mean?
Firstly, you do not have to answer the polices questions, which is your right to silence. However, the second part of the caution has important implications for this. Firstly if you do not answer the polices questions and were then to be charged with offences then when you go to Court you may want to give your version of events – but the Court may hold against you the fact that you did not give this information at the first opportunity when the police interviewed you .
Secondly if you do give an explanation at the police station but you either don’t answer some questions or miss out important information then if you seek to provide that at the court then this may again be held against you.
How would it be held against you?
The Judge at trial can make what is known as an adverse inference which basically means he or she can tell the jury what you failed to do at the police station and the jury in carefully defined circumstances may hold this against you.
In what are often finely balanced cases it is important not to offer up the possibility of such an adverse inference unless there is really no choice.
Finally, your interview will be recorded for both your protection and that of the police so that everyone knows exactly what you were asked and what you answered in your interview.
Usually that is still audio only, but some police forces now also record the interview on video.
After the Interview
Of course, once the interview is complete if you are a volunteer you are free to go, Indeed as a volunteer you can leave the interview at any time although it is always advisable to see the process through.
Some ancillary matters may then arise. Firstly, the Police might want to access some material which they need your permission for such as your medical records or bank records. They might also if this is a more recent historic case want to check your social media records or your phone records. In some circumstances they might even want to take your phone for examination.
These requests bring complex considerations which is why you should discuss any requests with your Solicitor who would advise you as to your best course of action. There can be a risk that if you do not cooperate that the police might try to arrest you so that they have a power of seizure but even then, the position is not straight forward and that is why you would need advice.
of course, often to support your innocence giving access to some records can be advantageous.
As a volunteer you will then be subject to a risks assessment which is a formal process where the police have to be satisfied that now you know about these allegations that this will not affect your mental health or wellbeing such that you might harm yourself . They should highlight to you available counselling or other independent services that can offer assistance and if you feel unwell after the attendance at the police station of course you should seek medical assistance.
Naturally things can seem bleak after such an interview but there is every possibility the police investigation could lead to no further action and it is important to try to keep that in perspective particularly as the investigation may continue for quite a while.
As indicated as a volunteer you will then be free to go and will usually be released under investigation (RUI) what this means is that you are not on bail and are free to continue your life . The police will continue their investigation and will then contact you when a final decision is made or if they need to speak to you again to ask you some more questions , when again you must ensure you are represented by the same solicitor .
In the unlikely event you were arrested once the interview is concluded the investigating officers will then discuss the case with the Custody Sgt who is the officer responsible for your care at the police station. A decision will be made as to your bail and what conditions. Even in this situation the usual course of events may be release under investigation.
Sometimes you may be bailed with conditions such as a requirement not to contact certain witnesses or to live in a certain place. In some of the most serious cases you may be kept and put before the Court, but this is not very usual at all these days.
The most agonising aspect of this process is now waiting for the Police to progress the investigation. These sorts of cases can take many months to move forward due both to a lack of resources for the police and also the Crown Prosecution Service who must make the decision as to whether to charge or not. If there is digital evidence to consider and assess the time will be even greater and there is a considerable backlog for such cases.
There is now a lot of concern over whether RUI is an appropriate way to deal with these cases as it leads to too longer a delay both for you and also for those making the allegations.
But this is how the current investigation system operates so what next.
What are the Do’s and Don’ts at this stage:
- DOtry to get on with your life as the investigation may be lengthy
- DOseek medical support if you are suffering as a result of the investigation
- DOkeep in regular touch with your Solicitor who will ask the Police for regular updates
- DO NOTtry to contact the Complainant or any of the Prosecution Witnesses
- DO NOTplace any of the information about the investigation on Social Media
- DO NOTexpect this to be quickly completed
- DO NOTlose hope and make sure you DO stick with the process and the advice you will be receiving
How much will it cost?
So, I am sold on being represented but how much will the Solicitor cost?
The answer is that if you have not had advice from another Solicitor you are entitled under Legal Aid to be represented at the Police Station without charge. If you want a Solicitor who works a distance away from the Police Station to represent you (a specialist) that is your choice but there may be costs involved in that.
That Legal Aid should also cover any returns to the Police Station. If you want to discuss the evidence outside of the Police Station at length, then you may need to reach a different arrangement with the Solicitor.
Any final thoughts
DO NOT PANIC, what you are facing is very unpleasant and stressful, but with the right advice you can successfully get through this stage. There is plenty of support out there.
It remains an important stage where you can strongly set out your defence, this is crucial for the investigation and also your own emotional well being.
You must get the right representation and take time to prepare yourself for the process. How you deal with the interview at the police station can make a real difference to the ultimate outcome.
If you originally attended your police interview as a volunteer, then you may simply receive a summons to Court (this is called a requisition) which will tell you about the charges you face and the date you must attend the Magistrates Court.
If you were on bail you are likely to be asked to return to the police station where you will be charged with offences and given a date to attend the Magistrates Court.
The most unlikely scenario is that you are in custody and will be put before the Court, if this was to happen then you will be told your charges and then placed before the Court at the next available hearing for them to decide your bail. This however is exceptionally rare, and most cases are dealt with by requisition.
What should I do before the hearing?
You should let your solicitor know about the charges and court date so they can arrange representation. If you did not have a solicitor or had one whom you are not confident in now is the optimum time to change Solicitor, it may prove much more difficult to do so at a later stage.
If time permits it will be advisable to have a discussion with your Solicitor in advance of the hearing, this will also give you an opportunity to get your legal aid application sorted out. If you are a distance away from your chosen solicitor, then you can deal with it over the telephone or email.
Save for that , the most important thing to do at this stage is keep a level head, all sorts of things will be running through your mind, but you are just at the start of a process and very little is going to happen at that first hearing.
Applying for Legal Aid – what if I don’t qualify?
For reasons we will explain it is important that you should apply for legal aid in each and every case even if you are certain you will not qualify for legal aid. If your Solicitor tells you not to apply for legal aid they are doing you a dis-service because if you are found not guilty you can ask the Court to grant you a Defendants Cost order so you can get some of your money back – but this can only happen if you have applied and been refused legal aid .
If you apply for legal aid and are granted it without any contribution, then your representation is covered fully from start to finish.
As an alternative you may be granted legal aid but with a contribution, this is usually a lump sum because you have capital or income sufficient to contribute to your legal aid. Whatever the lump sum it will then be split into instalments usually over 6 months and this is then a debt you must pay.
Once paid you are then fully covered for Legal Aid and if you are found Not Guilty you can apply to get those contributions back.
If you are refused legal aid, then you will be issued a refusal certificate and must then fund your case privately. If you are found Not Guilty you can get a Defendants Cost order but that will only be for legal aid rates and you may get roughly about 1/3 of what you have spent for your representation back.
Funding Your Case Privately
Buying legal services is the same as any other service you might seek, and you should consider what you require and what is being offered. You will be balancing experience against cost and it is obvious that if you want an experienced legal team this will cost you more than a team with limited experience.
There are many good teams out there with solid experience of these cases but there are equally those who assert they have more experience than they really have or those who unfortunately choose to charge people in your situation fees which are far higher than is fair or needed.
you should ask (at least some of these)
- What their experience is
- How will they work on your case?
- Who will work on your case?
- How they select your trial advocate
- What input will they seek from you
- Whether they offer fixed fees
- What their fee policies are
- Have they a complaint history over Crown Court Trial work
- Ask them to tell you (without names) about a recent case or two they have undertaken
The First Hearing
At your first hearing you will attend Court and it is important to make sure you get there in good time. If you feel you need support, feel free to take a family member or supporter with you.
Your solicitor will meet you at Court and by then they will have received some initial disclosure called IDPC. This usually is a list of the charges and a summary of the evidence; it might have a couple of statements, but it will not be all the evidence.
It is enough for the Court to make a basic decision and for you to be advised which your solicitor will do before you go into Court.
What advice I will I get?
The charges you are facing will be discussed along with the basic facts so that you can explain your response to them.
The charges in historic abuse cases are either what are known as either way offences or Indictable only. Either way means as its name suggests they can either be heard in the Magistrates or the Crown Court, whereas an indictable only offence has to be heard in the Crown Court.
It is unusual for such a case to be heard in the Magistrates unless it is very minor and generally the Crown will want it tried in the Crown Court and you would in any event want it to be heard there before a jury.
Such offences if they are historic and before 2004 will be charged under the 1956 Sexual Offences Act, anything after May 2004 will be charged under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act and you might face a combination of both [ We are producing a separate guide over this].
Your solicitor should then explain the procedure to be followed in Court.
What happens in the court room?
Your case will be called on and you will walk to the dock area where you will be told to stand whilst the charges are put to you. Generally, you may be given an opportunity at this stage to give an indication of plea which will also have been recorded on a form.
You will also be asked your name, address and nationality.
The Prosecutor will then outline the basic facts and tell the court what they seek. If there are indictable only offences, then the Court will have no choice and proceed to discuss how to send the case to the Crown Court. If you have any either way offences these can be sent along with the indictable offences to the Crown Court.
If the offences are only either way, then the Prosecutor will indicate where they would like them heard (usually in the Crown Court) and your Solicitor will then be given an opportunity to make representations
The Court will then decide which will be usually to direct Trial in the Crown Court.
In more minor offences the Crown may say it is suitable for summary trial in the magistrates and then you will be given a choice, although this should have been discussed with your solicitor in advance.
If your case for any reason is to proceed in the Magistrates Court, then the Court will then go through a pre-trial review to give directions for your trial and fix a trial date.
If your case is now going to the Crown Court the case will then be adjourned to a Court date in the Crown Court which will be generally 4 weeks at the moment, although there are circumstances where it could be shorter.
What if I plead guilty?
If you want to plead guilty to any offences your solicitor will advise you about the process. The court will accept your pleas and assuming this disposes of all the allegations will then decide whether they can sentence you or whether matters are so serious that you should be committed to the Crown Court for sentence.
If you attended on requisition or bail, then the Court will usually bail you to attend the Crown Court.
You will be given discount for your guilty plea and before you appear at the Crown Court a probation officer is likely to see you to undertake a report to assist the Court in sentencing you.
It is important to understand that your Solicitor has a professional obligation to ask whether you want to plead guilty to any offences and this does not mean they will not fully support you’re not guilty defence.
What sentences you could receive will be dealt with in a separate guide.
What happens after the hearing?
In terms of the process very little happens initially. Cases are run digitally, and your solicitor will now have to wait for the case to be digitally uploaded to a link they have access to.
Shortly before the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing in the Crown Court the basic evidence should have been uploaded and your solicitor will share with you what they can.
Your solicitor also needs to arrange an advocate for you for the hearing and this will either be a solicitor advocate or an external barrister. It will not always be possible for it to be the same advocate you will have for the trial as trial advocates are often tied up in other cases. You should be consulted over your choice of trial advocate by your solicitor.
Before the hearing your solicitor will also complete a questionnaire for the Court dealing with the basic issues and trial listing issues.
It will be unnecessary to have any lengthy conferences before you get to the Crown Court for the initial hearing as the full evidence will not have yet been served, but your solicitor should still keep in touch and support you in advance of the hearing.
The Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing before the Crown Court
This is a direction hearing before the Crown Court Judge (probably not the Judge who will hear the trial).
You will meet with your advocate who will discuss the charges and your pleas with you. Again, they are required to enquire whether you wish to plead guilty as this is something, they must confirm they have asked. On the assumption you are pleading not guilty they will then discuss the next steps and the directions the Judge will give.
The case will then be called on before the Court and you will be “arraigned ” which means that the charges will be put to you so that you can plead not guilty.
The prosecuting counsel will then give dates to the Judge of 4 Stages to the Case and these are broadly:
1 – Service of the Case – This is the deadline when the crown will serve all the evidence, they have including the Interviews of the Complainants. It does not stop the crown serving any additional evidence or disclosure later but is meant to include the key evidence they rely on. This will be 4-6 weeks from the PTPH.
2 – Defence Case – 4 weeks or so later there will be a deadline for service of your defence case statement. This is a document where you set out your basic defence and response to the prosecution evidence. In that document you will also make a request for all items of disclosure you want the CPS to provide.
If you know the witnesses you would like to call in your defence you must give basic details – Name, Address, DOB and Contact Number as the Crown are entitled to speak to those witnesses (they don’t always do so) .
3 – Stage 3 – Response to the Defence Case – This is the stage where the Crown need to respond to the defence case statement and can be up to another 4 weeks later.
4 – Stage 4 – Final Applications – This is a stage for any final applications that might be necessary.
The Judge might also put in a pre-trial review so that progress can be checked usually at or after Stage 3
A Trial Date will also be set.
Apart from any standalone applications either party may bring and the PTR you will not be required to attend Court again and are now expected to work with your legal team to prepare your case for trial.
After the directions have been given the Judge will address your bail and if you attended on unconditional bail then the Judge may simply re-admit you to that bail.
However sometimes the Judge might want to take extra precautions to make sure you stay in touch with your legal team and might impose a condition of residence so everyone knows where you are or non-contact with prosecution witnesses to ensure that there are no accusations of interfering with witnesses
Once that is done that is the end of the hearing and usually these hearings are relatively quick.
We will consider in a separate guide what you can do after that hearing to help your legal team build a strong defence.
If you were pleading guilty the Judge may proceed to sentence but that is covered in a separate sentencing note.
When you are facing proceedings then one of the first questions you need to address is how your case will be funded , whether this is Legal Aid or Private Funding .
You will have recevied assistance at the Police Station under the legal aid scheme as everyone under investigation subject to the overall merits test will get public funding for this vital stage .
However that funding only covers your actual appearance at the Police Station and not any other work around it .
Once you are charged with an offence you are then in the territory of a full assessment of your means .
Full Details of the process can be accessed here : https://www.gov.uk/guidance/criminal-legal-aid-means-testing
You will need to provide full details of your income / benefits and capital .
When you have completed the application it will be submitted electroncally and the Legal Aid Agency will assess it .
What will the Legal Aid Agency Decide ?
Having assessed the application they will either confirm :
- Legal Aid Granted without any financial contribution
- Legal Aid Granted but with a capital contribution
- Legal Aid Refused on Means
- Legal Aid refused on Merits
What happens with a capital contribution ?
This means that you will be assessed to pay a capital amount over 6 months towards your legal aid and once it is paid you will not before your trial have to pay anything more towards your costs . However there is still an option for the Legal Aid Agency to recover your defence costs if you have assets at the conclusion of the case .
What if I am refused ?
You will be issued with a refusal certificate and will now have to reach an agreement to fund your case privately with your legal team . You should try to agree a plan for those costs with fixed fees .
At the conclusion of the case if you are found not guilty you will be able to apply for a refund of part of some of your costs . These are assessed at legal rates , whereas you will have to pay your legal team private rates so you will be defintely be paying more than the government will refund to you , which is to be regretted but is the system the government has imposed .
It should also be remmebered that you should always apply for legal aid even if you do not think you will qualify becuase you cannot reclaim any costs unless you have recevied a legal aid refusal certificate .
The Clock is ticking from the moment you are charged with historical allegations , in fact this is the cruelest contradiction in that your accusers may have waited many decades to bring their allegations , the police may have extensively delayed their investigation but from the moment that the “charge” button is hit the clock is running against you very quickly .
You will find that very quickly you will be before the Magistrates Court and almost as soon as that is over the first appearance in the Crown Court is looming . Then you have your trial timetable with a trial date which at first instance might seem quite a way away , but invariably you will find that time moves very quickly and before you know it that trial will be looming .
Now you cannot exactly stop the bus but you can certainly get on it early and make sure it stops at all the right places . So how exactly do you do this ?
Step 1 – Your Solicitor – Make sure your Solicitor is the one who can provide the best representation because generally you really have one go at this . It may be you selected the Solicitors specially , if not and for example you were allocated a Duty Solicitor you may be lucky and have a good one , but it might be your solicitor is less experienced at defending historic cases than they claim – ASK NOW for evidence that they have a proven track record it may be too late later .
Step 2 – The Team – Good representation doesn’t start or end with your Solicitor and its important to make sure that the people around them are all part of a supportive team you can rely on . For example your solicitor might not be available on every occasion especially if they are experienced and in demand . So who is in the team ? Who can you rely on a day to day basis ? Its not a problem if your day to day contact is for example a more junior fee earner provided the are committed to your case and there is a clear supervision process . They can often do the leg work whilst your solicitor directs the case .
Step 3 – Your Advocate and early access – You will be represented at your Trial usually by either a Barrister or Solicitor Advocate which is a solicitor who due to experience can represent you in the Crown Court [ your solicitor may be a Solicitor Advocate ] . There is a duty to advise you upon the best level of advocate for your case and you should be given that advice . Forget about the idea of a QC unless it is a particularly complex or serious cases compared to other cases , generally an experienced advocate is more than capable of dealing with the case . What is important is what access you get to the advocate who is in charge of leading the trial preparation , you will not see them on a day to day basis and they are not there to run the case on a daily basis , but nonetheless you should be able to get regular meetings with them as the case progresses , if you are heading to your trial and you have not met your advocate something has gone wrong and it needs fixing .
Step 4 – Early Preparation – What does it look like ? At the start of a case your legal team will get limited information . If you recall it is only once you get to the Crown Court that a timetable gets set . This means that its likely that about 6 weeks after you appear in the Crown Court will your legal team actually get the evidence and sometimes some of the disclosure is delayed beyond that . If your representatives get it right you will be part of the team and so will start to be provided the material you can see as this process continues . You will be able to help your own case by providing organised written instructions . This might include :
- A Chronology or timeline of events
- A list of player for participants i.e in a family case who all the witnesses and and how they are interrelated
- As you get evidence you can provide written instructions on the statements usually referring it by page and line number so your legal team can easily follow
- You might start to think about witnesses who might be able to assist you
Don’t worry if you are not good at writing , any notes can help and if that is not possible then your legal team can instead do it in person .
This should lead to early working together allowing your legal team to start to prepare the case more clearly at a quicker speed and when you meet your advocate they will then have a clear idea of your instructions .
Is there anything I should not do ?
Try not to give repetitive instructions , the same issues and points may understandably be going around in your head but if you keep providing the same points to your legal team they still have to consider it all and this can eat up their available time . Of course your only concern is your case but it is worth remembering that your team is also having to handle a lot of other cases .
Step 5 – Working Together . It is worth thinking about how you should work together and what you should expect . This should certainly include you being given access to the evidence and giving your comments upon it . If this is not happening then it needs addressing , you cannot defend yourself if you have not seen the evidence against you .
You should expect to have the opportunity to discuss that evidence with your solicitor and at least once if not more in conference with your advocate .
Step 6 – But how can I prove I didn’t do it ? . Its a common feature of these cases that they represent the converse of the usual burden of proof in that you are expected if you are to successfully defend yourself of having an active answer to the allegations – it is never enough to imply assert you didn’t do it .
It is vital to remember that false allegations are invariably built upon a combination of real facts . Those who make up false allegations seek to twist those facts to fit their story and therefore every defence of a false allegation case should start from an analytical approach to each and every fact :
- What is the fact
- Is the fact as stated as true ?
- If not what is wrong with it ?
- Where does it fit in the overall timescale ?
- What evidence do you have to contradict that account ?
- Have you any documentary evidence including photographs or videos that might contradict that account
- What facts can you rely on in contradiction
And applying that method you slowly build up a defence that not only denies the false allegations but advances a positive account before the jury .
Step 7 – What other records might help me ? This very much depends upon the case . In a institutional case such as a care home there may be a variety of records such as school records , social service records and educational notes which might assist a defence . In a domestic setting the records may be less apparent but there may certainly be medical records , social service records and school records . If the allegations can be dated then it may be possible to narrow the allegations by other records such as work records if they exist or HMRC records .
There is also the question of digital evidence including social media records , text messages etc .
The key here is to thing laterally , turn the allegations on their head and consider every possibility . The law does not allow a fishing expedition you can’t get every record and hope you will find something , it requires a specific approach but well advised you should be able to mount some successful requests for the records .
Step 8 – The Trial Run in . As the Trial draws near do not panic , stick to the plan and work with your team to make the final preparations , you will need a level head and there may be things arise last minute which the team will need your help with .
If you think they have missed something – then make that clear , be prepared to listen and understand if there is a good reason why some evidence cannot be used but never be afraid to ask and challenge your team . Your legal team is not required to blindly follow your instructions and if they do not consider something is in your best interest they can decline to follow that instruction .
If its possible you will need support during the trial , if your partner is not a witness they can do that but if they are a witness then they cannot be inside the court . You are entitled to keep a note of important points and your team should take the time to discuss each days progress with you .
You will invariably be given an opportunity to give evidence and this is your chance to give the jury a brief snapshot of who you are . Listen carefully to the questions and answer only the question put to you , do not elaborate unless you are asked to do so . Never ever fall into the trap of arguing with the advocate cross examining you . They are trained to cross examine witnesses and do it every day of the week do not try to take them on but stick to your evidence that is what the jury are interested in .
And once the evidence is finished your advocate will give a closing speech bringing all the evidence together and showing why the jury should not convict , do take time to understand the general approach your advocate will take .
Then comes the time when you must wait , it is the worse part of the process and you would definitely be best advised to have friends and family there with you to keep you company .
This is a challenging process from start to finish but if you get the right team they should be with you every step of the way .
You have finally arrived at your Trial so what is about to happen and how do you cope with it all .
If you have a good legal team then you should feel like you have had a positive journey towards your trial , of course you feel under stress at as the moment of trial arrives but you have good people around you to support you .
So what happens next ?
On Day 1 of your trial there may or may not be any witnesses to be called , but waht should happen will be the Jury will be put in charge of your case , last minute legal applications will be considered and the Crown will open the case before the Jury giving a description of the case and the evidence they intend to call .
Thereafter the witnesses will be called starting with the complainants and your barrister will be able to cross examine them . You should all have a clear understanding what approach will be taken and aafter each witness you should have a chance to evaluate how it went .
After civilian witnesses , the police willl give evidence and then formal admissions - facts everyone agrees will be read to the jury to conclude the prosecution case .
You will then start the defence case and will be cross examined by the Prosecution Barrister , after that any defence witnesses can be called to conclude your defence case .
After that the Barristers will give a closing speech to the jury bringing out all the best evidence points you can now make . The Judge will now sum the case up to the jury and send the jury out to consider their verdicts .
You are likely to be given bail and allowed to stay with your family in the Court building , if the jury take some time you will be able to go home and come back each day .
This is of course a very difficult time but your legal team should be with you throughout and support you as the jury deliver verdicts .
If you are acquitted then that will be the end and you can return home .
Should the jury be unable to return a verdict then they will be discharged and it si likely you will have to face a retrial .