What happens at a provincial offences trial, and how do I prepare?

4. Arrange for witnesses

Your evidence also includes witnesses. Witnesses are people who have information that can help your case. These can be your own witnesses, or someone who appears in the prosecutor’s disclosure. You may also be a witness yourself.

If you have witnesses you want to use, tell them before your trial. And you should arrange for them to attend on the trial day.

If there are witnesses you want to use, but you’re not sure if they will come to court, you may need to subpoena them. This is also known as a “Summons to Witness”. A person who is subpoenaed must come to the court and be a witness. Contact the court office shown on your ticket to find out more.

If you want to use a witness listed in the prosecutor’s disclosure, make sure the prosecutor will have that witness in court. You should confirm this in writing.

The prosecutor is not required to subpoena or call anybody as a witness on your behalf. So, if the prosecutor does not confirm that the witness will attend, you should subpoena the witness if you want them to give evidence.

If one of your witnesses needs accessible court services, you should contact the court office shown on your ticket for information about a courthouse’s accessibility features.

Prepare your witness

Try to speak to your witnesses before the trial. You can give them the following information:

  • tell the truth
  • listen carefully to the question, and wait until the entire question is asked before answering
  • answer only the question that is asked
  • think before answering each question
  • don’t guess
  • ask for clarification if required
  • be cooperative and polite

Prepare your questions

Make notes of the questions you want to ask your witness. Make sure you ask questions that they can answer.

If you’re going to be a witness, you don’t need to ask yourself questions. You can tell your story as you like. The Justice of the Peace may ask you questions, and the prosecution is allowed to cross-examine you.

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