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Reaching a verdict and sentencing

If the defendant is found guilty, the judge or magistrates will decide on their sentence. 

The defendant may choose to plead guilty at the last minute. This can be frustrating if you’ve prepared to give evidence, but it means they accept responsibility and they’ll be sentenced. 

If the defendant is found not guilty (‘acquitted’), they may be allowed to leave the court.  

The Witness Care Unit or the investigating officer will tell you the outcome of the trial within 1 working day of being informed by the court. 

If they can’t answer all your questions about the sentence, they should put you in touch with the Crown Prosecution Service, who’ll be able to help. They can refer you to victim services for more help if you need it. 

What happens next

Find out how to claim expenses for giving evidence at the trial.



When someone charged with a crime is found not guilty by a court. 

Crown Prosecution Service 

The Crown Prosecution Service presents criminal cases at court after they have been investigated by the police. 


The person charged with a criminal offence. 

Investigating officer 

The police officer in charge of your case who can keep you up to date with the investigation. You can call them on 101 and give your crime reference number to be put through to the right person. 

Witness Care Unit 

The Witness Care Unit describes a police-led function which provides information and support to victims and witnesses in cases progressing through the criminal justice system. This unit may be known by another name in your local area.

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