If you have the written statement you gave to the police, you can use this statement to help you remember important details.

Address the Judge as "Your Honour", "Sir" or "Madam".

In some courtrooms lawyers and other court officials bow to the judge when they enter or leave the courtroom.  This is a show of respect.  Witnesses are not required to bow to the judge.

It is okay to say; "I don’t know" or "I don’t remember".

Do not give your opinion or say what other people told you happened.  Your role is to tell what you remember happening.

A judge listens to people tell their information every day and has probably heard a similar situation to yours before.

Tell the truth as well as you remember, do not argue or use rude language, try to stay calm.  Deep breathing can help you relax.  Some witnesses find it helpful to look at a support person in the courtroom.

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Witness Tips – On the Witness Stand

If you are asked to give information about a crime, you are a witness when you testify in court.  Your role is an important one.  Here are some tips for being a good witness.

  • Use the bathroom facilities before you have to testify.

  • Tell the truth.  Do not lie about anything.  

  • Be a polite witness.  

  • You do not have to bow to the judge when you enter or leave the courtroom.  

  • Tell the judge if something is bothering you or if you have a question during your testimony.

  • Wait until the whole question is asked before answering.  If you don’t understand a question, ask to have it explained to you.

  • If you do not know the answer, do not guess.  

  • Answer only the question that is being asked.  

  • If the Crown prosecutor or the defence counsel "objects" to a question that is being asked, wait until the judge decides if you should answer.

  • Speak in a clear, strong voice, even if there is a microphone in front of you.  In most cases, the microphone is only for recording what you say.

  • You may ask for some water to drink, a tissue or even a break if you feel you need one.

  • Do your best to describe in detail what happened to you, even if it means talking about things that you normally keep private.  

  • Some questions may be hard to answer or even seem unfair.  

Note:  Many of the Canadian courts have a Victim/Witness Assistance Program.  You can check our Provincial and Territorial Links for services available in your province/territory or call a courthouse in your area.

» 1 Before Court » 2 Day of Court » 3  On the Witness Stand « » 4 After Court