When you are a victim of crime in the Canadian justice system, you are not always called to testify at the trial. However, the prosecutor may find it necessary to do so to show that the accused committed the crime. Here are the steps to plan.


The summons requires to testify

A victim of a criminal act called to testify will receive a subpoena, also called a subpoena. This document indicates the date, the place and the time at which it must appear.

The summons requires to testify. In certain circumstances, the judge may even take steps to force a victim to testify in the event of a refusal on his part.

In cases of exceptional impediment, the victim must contact the prosecutor before the trial to find out whether or not he or she can be absent.

Note that the employer must allow his employee to testify to be absent from work. He can not impose a penalty for that reason.




Organizations offer help to prepare for the transition to court, such as the Crime Victim Support Center (CAVAC) or the Sexual Assault and Assault Center (CALACS).

It is also possible to discuss with the prosecutor to ask the judge for accommodation to facilitate the testimony. The judge must assess and allow or deny each request.

For example:

  • Testify with someone you trust with him.
  • Testify behind a screen or outside the trial room, through a video circuit.
  • Exclude the public from the trial room.
  • Prohibit the publication of information that can be used to recognize it.

An intervener or a relative of the victim who is to testify may also be present on the day of the trial.


The unfolding process

 The unfolding process

On the day of the trial, the victim must go at the scheduled time to the room indicated on the summons. Generally, this is a room reserved for victims. Unless otherwise, the prosecutor will join her there to bring her to the trial room. It is possible that she is waiting for her turn outside the trial room.

When called to testify, she must:

  • Take an oath or solemnly affirm that she will speak the truth.
  • Testify standing, in front of the judge, and answer by looking in the direction of the judge.
  • In general, answer all the questions that are asked even if it is sometimes difficult.

The judge must hear all the information as if it was the first time: a full testimony must be given at the time of the trial, even if it feels like repeating the same things that have already been said to the police and the police. prosecutor.


The steps of a testimony

The testimony has three important steps.

Interrogation: The prosecutor asks questions first. In general, he asks the victim to explain what happened.

Cross-examination: the accused’s lawyer then asks the victim questions. If the accused does not have a lawyer, he will ask the questions himself. Her main goal is to know if she is telling the truth and finding flaws in her testimony.

The re-examination: the prosecutor can ask other questions if he thinks it is necessary. The purpose is to allow the victim to correct or explain what was said in the cross-examination.


The testimony of a victim of sexual assault

 The testimony of a victim of sexual assault

In a sexual assault trial, the accused or his or her lawyer can not ask questions about the victim’s past sexual experiences to give the impression that she is the type of person:

  • who would have consented to sexual activity
  • who can lie.


After the testimony

 After the testimony

In general, the victim may leave the courthouse immediately after his testimony, with the judge’s permission.

Before leaving, it is possible to go to the “Registry” (a service counter present in all courthouses) to receive a sum of money that compensates for the time spent in court. In some cases, other expenses are reimbursed (transportation, meals, accommodation). It is important to keep receipts.