What happens when a case goes to trial?
After you have hired a criminal defense lawyer, prepare yourself to face trial if you or a loved one are charged with committing a crime.
There are two options available to someone charged with a crime. You have two options: plea bargain or not guilty. The case will be tried more frequently if the accused pleads guilty.
Let’s see what happens when a case is brought to trial.
What is a Trial?
A criminal trial is a legal proceeding that determines if an accused is guilty or not of a particular charge. The Crown prosecution must prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt in Canada. This means that, although not all cases can be proven, there should be enough evidence to disprove most of the doubt.
Superior and provincial judges preside over most trials. However, jury trials can be held for serious indictable offenses. This is only possible if the accused requests to be tried by a jury of their peers.
What makes someone want to go on trial?
Most cases offer an alternative to going to trial. You can plead guilty and request a plea deal. This is often not a good option as the prosecution might not offer a fair choice to the defendant.
The accused might feel innocent, and therefore should not be sentenced. This is the only way an innocent person can receive justice.
The accused can prepare for their defense and spend time with their families before they go to trial.
The accused is protected by the Canadian Constitution, which can be another benefit to going to trial. The Crown is responsible for proving the guilt of each element of the crime.
A ‘not guilty’ verdict may also be given if there is misconduct in the investigation.
What are the different types of offences?
There are two types of criminal charges that can lead to a trial: a summary conviction and indictable offenses. Indictable offenses are the most serious.
If you are accused of a summary conviction, you must appear in front of a provincial judge. This offense usually results in a maximum penalty of $5,000 and six months imprisonment.
You have the option to choose whether you want to be tried in a provincial or superior court, with or without a juror, if you are accused of an indictable offense.
A preliminary inquiry will be conducted if the trial is in the supreme courts. This will review the merits of the case. If the judge finds insufficient evidence, then the case will be dismissed. A judge will then set a trial date.
What is the trial process?
No matter where the trial takes place, the Crown prosecution and the accused’s attorney will present evidence in support of the case. The judge will hear evidence and witness testimony relating to the crime.
First, the Crown presents its case. They summon witnesses to testify that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. To determine the truth of their statements, the Crown can allow the accused’s lawyer to cross-examine them.
The Crown prosecutor will be done. Now it’s the turn of the accused’s attorney to present their case. The court will decide if the Crown proved the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If they find the accused not guilty, they can be released.
Here’s a timeline showing how a trial happens
Here is a timeline showing how the majority of criminal trials are conducted:
- The bailiff calls the case and begins the trial
- A witness can request an exclusion order so they don’t have to hear each other’s testimony
- Their case is presented by the Crown prosecutor
- Cross-examination by the Crown witnesses by the lawyer of the accused
- The lawyer representing the accused presents their case
- Cross-examines the witnesses of the accused by Crown’s Prosecutor
- Both the prosecutor and the accused give closing statements
- A court issues a decision
- If the court finds the accused not guilty, they can go. However, if they are found guilty, the judge will sentence them after hearing a statement from both the victim and the accused.
If they feel the trial was unfair, the Crown and the accused can appeal the decision.
It can be overwhelming for both the accused as well as the victim of a crime to go through a trial. The whole process can be costly and time-consuming.
If the accused is found not guilty after a trial, they can get away with it. They would face jail time or a fine if they chose to plead guilty.
This article should have been helpful to you. If your loved one is ever in court, you will be able to give you an idea of what to expect.