Frequently Asked Questions
In a trial, the court hears all of the facts of the case to decide if the accused is guilty of the crime. Both the Crown Attorney and the defence lawyer present their evidence and make their arguments. Evidence is usually spoken testimony from witnesses. There can also be physical evidence, such as torn clothing or the weapon used to injure or threaten.
The Crown presents its case first. The Crown Attorney calls up witnesses and asks them questions. The witnesses are then cross-examined by the defence lawyer. Then it’s reversed – the defence lawyer calls up and questions witnesses and then the Crown Attorney cross-examines them. The person accused may or may not choose to testify.
The Crown can call on a victim of a crime to testify at trial. If you are served with a subpoena (a document stating you must attend court), you must attend court on the date specified. If you do not attend, you could be charged with a criminal offence yourself. If you do not wish to testify, you can get in touch with Victim Services or the Crown and let them know this. However, you may still ultimately be required to attend court.
When called to testify, you must go to the front of the courtroom to be sworn in. You will have to state your full name, and swear to tell the truth. You will have the option to swear on the Bible, swear on a sacred eagle feather, or simply promise to tell the truth.
Courts are open to the public. You can bring a friend with you for support. A worker from Victim Services may also be available for support. It’s a good idea to see the courtroom before the trial date, and if possible, to watch part of another trial. It will give you a good idea of what to expect on your day in court.
No. All summary conviction offences, including hybrid offences which are being dealt with summarily, are heard by a Provincial Court judge without a jury. Some less serious indictable offences also must be tried by a Provincial Court judge. There are some very serious indictable offences that may only be tried by a judge of the Court of King’s Bench with a jury. Such offences include murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Other indictable offences allow an accused person to choose (or elect) whether to be tried in Provincial Court, in the Court of King’s Bench by a judge and jury, or in the Court of King’s Bench by a judge alone.
An accused person who does not make a choice is automatically scheduled for a trial in the Court of King’s Bench with a judge and jury.
CanLII (or The Canadian Legal Information Institute) is a not-for-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. CanLII has a free database of legal information, including cases from each province and territory in Canada. You can search court decisions of various levels of court, tribunals, and administrative and regulatory bodies. There are also statutes and regulations available on the website, and legal commentary.
The Manitoba section of CanLII has court cases from the Manitoba Court of Appeal, Court of King’s Bench, and Provincial Court. There are decisions available from the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, Manitoba Labour Board, Manitoba Securities Commission, Manitoba Health Appeal Board, Labour Arbitration Awards, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Manitoba Discipline Committee, and the Manitoba Law Society Discipline Committee.
The E.K. Williams Law Library at Robson Hall has a collection of legal resources available to the public. They are located at 224 Dysart Road at the University of Manitoba and can be reached at 204-474-9995.