I’m a witness at a criminal trial. What do I need to know?

If you're required to be a witness at a criminal , you will get a . A subpoena is a that says you must come to court at a specific date and time to . To testify means that you tell the court what you know about the .

When you testify, a lawyer will ask you questions about what you saw or heard. You have to promise to tell the truth and your answers become in the trial. You might be asked to testify by the Crown, by the person charged with a crime, or their defence lawyer.

The Crown or defence lawyer will ask you to be a witness if they believe that you know something about the alleged crime that will help prove whether the is guilty or not guilty.

Giving evidence

Before you testify, you must promise to tell the truth by swearing an oath or giving a solemn affirmation. The information you give when you testify is used as evidence in the case. It's against the law to lie in your .

You can only tell the court about things that you experienced personally. So you can testify about what you saw or felt. And, in some circumstances, you can testify about sounds that you heard, like a gunshot or people yelling.

Having a lawyer

A witness usually doesn't have the right to be represented by a lawyer at a criminal trial. You can speak to a lawyer to get advice before testifying but they won't be able to speak for you in court.

There are some situations when a witness can have a lawyer at a trial. For example, if you're the victim of , you might be allowed to have a lawyer to protect your privacy rights if the accused asks to see your medical records. Ask the Crown if you have the right to a lawyer.

Victim and witness support

If you're the victim of a crime or a witness to a violent crime, you will be offered support from the Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP). VWAP can help you get ready to testify. They can also help you get special accommodation if you need it, like testifying behind a screen if you are afraid of the accused. If you haven't been offered VWAP support, you can ask the Crown. You can also contact VWAP on your own.

Hide this website