4. Prepare to be a witness

What if my abusive partner is charged with a crime?
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4. Prepare to be a witness

If your partner does not plead guilty and the case goes to a trial, you will probably be called as a witness. You have to go to court to explain what happened.

You must go to court if you've been given a "subpoena". A subpoena is sometimes called a summons. It is a document that says you must go to court on a certain date to testify. If you don't go, the Crown Attorney can ask that you be arrested and brought to court. This does not happen very often, but if it does happen the police can arrest you and bring you to court.

In most parts of Ontario, special teams of Crown Attorneys, Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) workers, and police work together to prepare a domestic violence case for court.

Support for testifying

VWAP staff can help you prepare to be a witness. They can let you know what to expect on your court date, and may give you a tour of the court. They can also ask for a copy of your police statement for you to review before the trial. They can refer you to other services that may offer you support, such as help planning for your safety.

The program's staff can also help you communicate your needs to the Crown Attorney and the police. In some cases, they can set up a pre-trial interview with the Crown Attorney. But they can't discuss the evidence in the case with you.

You should talk about any safety concerns with your VWAP worker before the trial. The VWAP worker might be able to go with you to court when you have to testify. You might also want to bring a friend or a family member with you.

Testifying in a criminal trial can be very difficult, especially if you have to say bad things about your partner. You might feel frightened to do this. Or, you might not want to say bad things about your partner because you hope the two of you can get back together.

It is very important that you tell the truth when you testify, even if you are scared. If you don't, you might face criminal charges yourself.

Your partner might make threats to try to stop you from testifying in court. For example, your partner might threaten to take the children from you. Your partner can be charged for making this type of threat. If they threaten you, you can call the police.

Reviewed: August 31, 2017

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