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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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What happens at the trial?

The criminal trial takes place in a courtroom that is usually open to the public. Formal rules are followed. For example, everyone must stand when the judge enters or leaves the room.

Children at court

Try to find someone to care for your children while you are at court. You can spend a lot of time waiting, which can be difficult for children. Usually, children are not allowed in the courtroom because they might disrupt the proceedings. Children can also be very upset by what happens at court.

The Crown Attorney's role

Criminal cases are between the person charged with a criminal offence and the government. A Crown Attorney represents the government in a criminal trial.

Crown Attorney: a government lawyer who presents the case against the person accused of a crime in criminal court. They work for the government and are not the victim's lawyer.

The police gather the evidence. The Crown Attorney must use the evidence to present the case against your partner. This usually includes deciding who to call as a witness in court. You will be called as a witness if your partner is charged with a crime related to his abuse of you.

The time between arrest and trial can be very long. There might be many court appearances before a trial. You do not usually have to go to these court dates before trial. If you do need to go, you will be given a subpoena.

Subpoena: a document that orders you to go to court on a specific date.
Important: Contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) to get help and support before you go to court.

Trial procedure

At the trial, the Crown Attorney presents their case first. Then your partner's lawyer presents the case for your partner. Each side presents evidence and witnesses to support their version of the event.

Each witness must swear an oath on a holy book, or affirm (promise) that they will tell the truth. In some places, Indigenous witnesses can use an eagle feather to do this, if they prefer.