If you’re involved in a Criminal case in Court and you’ve chosen to challenge or contest the charges against you, your case will move towards a trial being conducted.
The purpose of conducting a trial is to allow the Court to review the relevant evidence and decide whether you’re guilty of the charges brought against you.
During the trial, the Judge will see and review the evidence produced by you and the Prosecution, and this evidence can be presented in the form of witness testimonies, documents, videos, photographs, and physical objects.
The Judge will try to find out the truth of what had happened by assessing the accuracy and credibility of the evidence presented.
After hearing all the evidence presented, the Judge will then decide whether to convict or to acquit you.
How should you prepare for a Trial?
The Judge can only consider evidence presented in Court during the trial and whatever is not presented before the Court will not be considered. You must, therefore, bring along evidence, including witnesses (if any), in support of your Defence at the trial. Both sides have a right to call witnesses. All witnesses will be sworn and affirmed under oath and will be subjected to questioning by you and the Prosecution. If you want to rely on what someone else says or knows, that person must come to Court so that the Prosecutor will be able to ask him questions
- Regarding your Witnesses: You must make sure that all your witnesses turn up for the trial. If you’re not sure whether the witnesses are willing to turn up, you should apply at the Crime Registry (State Courts) for a “Summons to a Witness” to be issued against that witness. A fee is payable for every Summons issued. A Court process server will then help you to serve the document on the witness.
- Regarding your Documents: You must prepare the documents and all the evidence that you plan to rely on for your defence. You need to prepare at least 4 copies of the documents. One (the original) for the Court, one for the Prosecution, one for the witness and one for yourself. You should know that documents such as WhatsApp or Facebook messages can be presented as evidence in Court, subject to the Court’s decision. As a general rule, you should also ensure that the person who created or made the document is in Court to explain and confirm how it was made. Otherwise, the document will possibly be rejected and not allowed to be admitted as evidence for the trial Your documents should be prepared well in advance of the trial. This is particularly important as the Court can order you (and the Prosecution) to submit these documents before the actual trial date.
- Regarding your Preparation: You should prepare a list of questions that you want to ask to (i) your own witnesses and (ii) the Prosecution’s witnesses
- Regarding the Admitting of documents and photographs etc. as evidence at trial: You should know that both sides are allowed to show the Judge documents, photographs, videos, reports, and objects as evidence. If you want the Judge to think through any document, photograph, etc., you should prepare three copies of it and bring the original to Court. The maker of the document or the person who took the photograph should come to Court. Otherwise, the Court may not review it. You should introduce the documents and photographs through the relevant witness by asking the witness to tell the Court (in examination-in-chief).
So here’s a quick reminder and summary of what you need to do to prepare for your trial:
- You need to bring your evidence needed to Court
- You need to have the original and copies of each document to be used as evidence
- You need to ensure that the creator or maker of the document comes to Court (Otherwise the document may not be considered as evidence)
- You need to contact witnesses in advance and ask them to attend the trial
- You need to make sure all your witnesses attend the trial
- You need to apply for a Court Order called a “Summons to a Witness” telling your witnesses to attend the trial
So, there you’ve it, some basic information on: What does a Trial in a Criminal Case involve?