1. Learn about what you get
Question & AnswerCan I have my criminal law trial in French?
If you speak French, you have the right to bilingual proceedings if you ask for them. Bilingual proceedings mean:
- you can use either French or English during your and in your documents
- you have the right to a French-speaking or bilingual judge and jury
- you have the right to a French-speaking or bilingual Crown
- the judge can decide to allow the Crown prosecutor to examine or cross-examine a witness in their official language even if it is not your official language
- you, your lawyer, or your witnesses can use court interpreters at no cost
- your trial can be a bilingual proceeding if you have and are being tried together but have chosen different official languages
- you get a transcript of everything that was said in the official language in which it was said, a transcript of any interpretation into the other official language, and any documentary that was submitted in the official language in which it was submitted, in most cases
- you get your trial judgment, including reasons, in your official language
What you don’t get
Your right to have proceedings in French doesn't apply to other types of hearings such as hearings, first appearances, or guilty pleas. But, some courts do provide bail hearings and guilty pleas in French on request. For example, in Ottawa. Call the court to find out more.
You can ask for an interpreter for other hearings through the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Court Services Division. You should ask for an interpreter ahead of time so that court staff can make arrangements for the date and time of your . Give the following information:
- the type of court appearance
- date and time the interpreter is needed
- court location
Your right to have proceedings in French also doesn't give you an automatic right to get your in French. Disclosure is the evidence and information that the police and Crown have about your case. But the court can order that some of your disclosure be translated at no cost to you to allow you to prepare and present your defence.