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Case Begins

When a case begins in criminal court, the court clerk calls the court 'to order', asking everyone to stand while the judge enters the courtroom.

After the judge is seated, everyone else may take a seat. The clerk then reads the charges and, if a plea has not already been entered, the judge asks the accused how she or he pleads and the accused responds.

Crown counsel will stand and ask for 'an order excluding all witnesses', which means that all witnesses in the case must leave the courtroom and not return until they are called to testify. The judge will then order all witnesses to leave the courtroom.

Crown counsel will present the prosecution case first. As a Crown witness, you will be called to testify as part of the prosecution case and Crown counsel will ask you questions first. This is called direct examination. The defence lawyer may then ask you additional questions. This is called cross-examination. The judge may also ask you questions to clarify your answers. If defence counsel presents any evidence, this will be done after Crown has completed its case.

Once both lawyers have completed their presentation of witnesses and given their closing arguments, the judge will usually render a verdict. This might happen immediately or another time might be scheduled for the judge to deliver the verdict.

Did You Know?
There are often many delays during the trial process. If you are a witness called in the morning, you should expect to be at the court for the entire day. You may also be required to attend on additional days if there are delays for any reason.

The testimony of witnesses is a key part of the trial. Even if you think you don’t have relevant information, it is important that you give your testimony in as much detail as possible. The court will be better able to understand what happened by hearing the testimony of all witnesses.

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