Summonsing witnesses - Criminal trials

If you have witnesses that you want to come to court to give evidence, you can have them summonsed

It is important to formally summons a witness, rather than just relying on them to attend the trial voluntarily.

  • If the witness does not come to court on the date stated in the summons, you can ask the police to arrest the witness and bring them to court.
  • If a witness does not obey a summons, you have a better chance of the trial being put off to another date.
  • If you didn't summon your witness and they do not attend court on the trial date, you might be forced to go ahead without them.

How to summons a witness

You need to apply to the court to get permission to issue a witness summons. You must indicate whether the summons is for the witness to attend court to give evidence, or a summons to produce a document or thing.

A witness summons must be served personally by giving it to the witness within a reasonable time before the trial date. 

You may need to show proof of service, so make sure you fill in the affidavit of service. This is a sworn written statement made by the person who successfully served the summons on the witness saying that they served it.

The witness must also be provided with travel money to get to court (sometimes called 'conduct money').


Useful documents

Magistrates Court of WA

Copies of these forms can also be downloaded in Word document format from the Magistrates Court of WA website.


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.