It varies so we can't tell you exactly how long this will take. There can be a gap of many months between deciding to take a spiking case to court and the trial happening.
Going to court
If a suspect is charged and pleads 'not guilty' it's very likely that you will be asked to give evidence in court.
If the CPS recommend a trial, the first stage will be ‘heard’ at a Magistrates’ Court. The suspect, who will be referred to in court as ‘the defendant’, will have to attend. You won’t need to attend at this stage.
If the defendant pleads ‘not guilty’ to the crime, you will need to go to the Crown Court and appear as a witness. In this case, you will be referred to as a ‘witness for the prosecution’.
Preparing for the day
It’s natural to feel a little nervous about going to court. But we’ll be on hand to support you all the way through the trial.
We can arrange a court visit before the day. You can familiarise yourself with the layout of the courtroom. You can also have the court process explained to you.
Special measures to help you in court
You can ask for 'special measures' to make going to court easier for you. These include:
giving evidence from behind a screen or by a live link from another room or somewhere else remotely
giving evidence in private, with no press or public allowed in the courtroom
If you want, you'll be able to visit the court before the trial to have a look around and have the court process explained to you.
Courts are open to the public, and journalists could be there to report on the case.
If the spiking involved rape or sexual assault, the court may grant you anonymity as a victim. In that case it's against the law for anyone, including journalists, to publish your name or any details that might identify you, including on social media.
This is because people who report sexual offences to the police are automatically given the right to not be named publicly for their whole lives.
After the trial
After the trial, the defendant could be found guilty or not guilty.
If they're found guilty, they may be given a sentence by the court. The court can order different types of punishment. This might be a prison sentence, but not all offenders are sent to prison.
Anyone found guilty of spiking will usually be sent to prison. Spiking carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison. If a robbery, sexual assault or other crime took place, the sentence may be even longer.
A conviction not only means separation from friends and relatives for the offender, but also has a potential long-term impact on their career, relationships and freedom to travel. If the spiking involved rape or sexual assault, they may be ordered to sign the sex offender register.
But depending on what happened, the punishment for spiking could be a community order. This might including doing unpaid work, having a curfew, or being banned from doing certain things.