What happens at the trial?
What happens at the trial?
A – The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives you the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.
This means you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial is an independent and impartial tribunal. The trial is the time when the Crown Prosecutor must present evidence to prove BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that you committed the offence you are charged with. If the Crown fails to do this, the judge must find you not guilty.
The case is called by a court official- typically the court clerk or crown counsel
You should go to the front of the court. You should sit at the front of the courtroom so that you can hear the witnesses and make notes of what each witness testifies to.
The trial begins
The judge will ask you and the Crown Prosecutor if you are ready for the trial. If you are not ready, the judge will decide whether to continue or adjourn and set another date for the trial. There must be a good reason to ask for an adjournment. When you have told the judge that you are ready, you can sit down. The court clerk will show you where.
If you are representing yourself make sure you attend your trial with pens, paper and a list of questions you want to ask each witness.
The judge is asked to make a witness exclusion order
You or the Crown Prosecutor may ask the judge to make an exclusionorder. This means that the judge excludes anyone who is to give evidence at the trial from the courtroom. You should tell your witnesses ahead of time that they will be asked to leave the courtroom before they have started testifying, and make sure that they leave. However, although you may be a witness and give evidence at your own trial, you must remain in court for the whole trial. (this is required so you can hear thew crown witnesses testimony it is important that you hear what is being said and see the witnesses as they testify).
The Crown Prosecutor presents the case against you
To prove the case against you, the Crown Prosecutor must present evidence on the standard of PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that you:
•Are the person charged with the offence on the date and at the place alleged in the information
• Committed the offence, and
• Intended to commit the offence.
The Crown Prosecutor will call witnesses
For example, if you were charged with shoplifting, the Crown would likely have as witnesses, the store manager or security officer and the police officer who investigated the matter.
Each witness goes into the witness box, swears or affirms to tell the truth, and answers questions from the Crown. As the witness answers, you should write down the main points and anything that you may want to question later. Note any weak points, for example, where witnesses contradict themselves or each other. When the Crown has finished with a witness, you will have a chance to ask your questions. This is called cross-examination.
The Crown may also use written evidence such as a Breathalyzer test certificate or drug analysis certificate. Before your trial you should get legal advice on how to handle such evidence.
You present your case, called your defence
Until now, the judge/jury has only heard the Crown’s side. It is now your turn to present your side by calling witnesses. If you call witnesses, you must not ask them leading questions. For example, you can ask “Were you with anyone on the evening of August 19?” You cannot say, “You were with me on the evening of August 19 weren’t you?”
When you have finished asking a witness questions, the Crown may cross-examine the witness. If you give evidence the Crown may cross-examine you.
You should get legal advice on what written evidence might be allowed in your case. You will need an original for the court and a copy for yourself and for the Crown Prosecutor.
The Crown and the defence sum up their case
After all the evidence has been presented in court, both you and the Crown have an opportunity to sum up your case (these are called submissions). Use this time to sum up the points in your favour.
If you presented evidence in your defence, you will make your submission first. However, if you are not represented by a lawyer, the judge might ask the Crown to sum up first. If you did not present a defence, the Crown usually sums up first
The judge makes a decision (called the verdict)
Based on the evidence presented in court, the judge must decide whether the evidence against you is sufficient to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judge takes into account all the evidence presented in court by you and the Crown. Sometimes the judge will adjourn the court briefly to allow time to reach a decision.
If there is a jury trial, the jury will reach a verdict together after considering all the evidence presented in court.
If the judge (or jury) finds you not guilty you are free to go. You have been acquitted
If the judge (or jury) finds you guilty, the next step is for the judge to sentence you.