Justice Process Trial
If the accused pleads "not guilty" a trial will take place. In some circumstances, the accused can choose to have a trial held before a judge alone or a judge and jury. In Canada, most trials are conducted with a judge alone.
What happens at the trial?
When the trial takes place, the Crown and the defence will call witnesses and present evidence to support their case.
The Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence charged. The defence will try to show that the Crown has not proven that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The Crown prosecutor will present the facts of the case to the court by asking the victim and witnesses questions about what happened.
- After each witness testifies about his or her knowledge about the incident, the defence counsel will ask questions to get some clarification or to challenge the evidence presented or the credibility of the witness. This is called cross-examination. The Crown prosecutor can re-examine the witness after the cross-examination.
- After the Crown prosecutor has presented the case, the defence lawyer can call witnesses and present evidence in support of the accused.
- The Crown has the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses after they testify for the defence.
- After all the witnesses have testified, both sides will make final statements, a summary of evidence that was presented.
If you want to see inside a courtroom please check out the Animated Courtroom.
Will the accused give evidence?
In most cases, the accused will be in the courtroom when the witnesses give their evidence but does not have to testify at the trial.
If the accused chooses to give evidence, the Crown is allowed to ask questions which the accused must answer.
When is the trial over?
After all the witnesses have been heard, the Crown prosecutor and the defence counsel will make final statements.
When there is a trial with a jury:
- the judge tells the jury what laws apply to the case, and how to consider the evidence they have heard. This is called instructing the jury
- the members of the jury must decide if the accused is guilty
- the members of a jury will meet until they reach a decision
- if the jury can not reach unanimous decision, the judge will declare a mistrial and a new trial will take place
When there is a trial with a judge alone:
- the judge must review all the evidence and decide whether or not the accused is guilty
- sometimes a judge reaches a decision right away but often a judge may take several days or weeks