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There are usually at least two lawyers in each criminal court case – the Crown counsel and the defence counsel.

Both lawyers are considered officers of the court and so are obliged to help the court reach an honest and just decision. In court, they refer to each other as “my friend” or “my learned friend”.

Crown Counsel (Crown Prosecutor or Crown)

  • reviews police files to determine if charges are warranted and if so, approves the laying of charges
  • deals with bail applications at all stages of a trial
  • must disclose to the accused or defence counsel the evidence that will be presented in court in advance, as well as any other relevant information that may affect the case
  • conducts the prosecution of cases up to and including any appeals
  • presents evidence to the court to prove that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
  • asks questions first of witnesses for the Crown and questions any witnesses called by the defence, including the accused (if the accused testifies).

Defence Counsel

  • makes court appearances with the accused
  • ensures that full disclosure is made by the Crown
  • ensures that all legal issues related to the accused's case are fully explored including that Crown witnesses are cross-examined and weaknesses in the Crown case are explored
  • ensures that any witnesses for the accused are notified about the court date and attend the trial to give evidence,
  • ensures that apparent errors made in trials are properly reviewed on appeal
  • ensures that the convicted person is represented by counsel during the trial and sentencing.

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