Testifying as an Accused Defendant on Criminal Charges

What to do and expect when testifying

  • After your initial interview with the lawyer, you and the lawyer may decide that you may need to testify at your trial. If that is the case you should, at home, write out for the lawyer a very detailed statement of the events which took place on the day you were charged. You should include detailed descriptions of who was around, what was said and a chronology of important times. Sign the statement and date it. Do not give it to the Crown or the police. Fax, email or mail it to your lawyer as soon as it is done.
  • If necessary, ask your lawyer for the name of experts that he or she feels would assist you best at your trial. Often experts are not required. The lawyer will explain why it is necessary if the need arises.
  • Keep a copy of your statement. This will become important later on, especially if your trial is set four or five months down the road. You may be able to use it at trial to refresh your memory.
  • Any witnesses should also write out statements. They should do so without talking to you or each other about what they are writing. Make sure the statements are dated and signed and ask them to fax it to your lawyer.
  • Please read the other sections under Court Preparation on this website as they all relate to you.
  • If you are not completely confident that your witnesses will attend court for trial, you should contact your lawyer who should be able to help you. The witness may need a subpoena in order to get time off from work.
  • Approximately a week or two before your trial is scheduled to be heard, book an appointment with your lawyer to go over how to testify in court.
  • When you go to court, bring a copy of your statement with you. The Crown will probably want to see it during trial, but you will be allowed to refer to it if it will help you to refresh your memory.
  • Once you arrive at the courthouse, do not walk around or talk to anyone as the police can compare your speech and walk with the day that you were arrested.
  • Read over your statement before you testify.

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