Criminal Trial Process Paper Introduction: In Canada, our criminal trial process is based around an adversarial system. What this means is that the disputants are represented by professionals in the field of law. These professionals are called lawyers. The lawyers work so that the truth of the trial is brought forward and justice is served for the greater community.
In the adversarial system it is believed that the search for truth is best served by the parties themselves, through their lawyers and not through the judge. This means that lawyers determine the issue in dispute and decide the best way to argue them. Judges generally play a very passive role in the trial process. Their job is merely to ensure a fair trial for the accused, and to make an unbiased, neutral decision at the end of the trial.
This decision is based upon the evidence brought forward by the two teams of lawyers during the criminal trial. Key Players: In the adversarial system there are three, and sometimes four key players that make up the criminal trial process. These key players are the Crown attorney, the defence attorney and the judge or justice or the court. There is however in some cases juries involved in the trial process as well. The Crown attorney represents what is seen as the king or queen of the country, however they in actual fact represent the police officers and other law enforcers as well as the general public. The Crown has a very difficult and burdening job.
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They must find the accused, which is the person being charged, guilty of committing the crime. This decision must be considered and thought to be without a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is a very hard concept to define. It is based around the “golden thread” of English law, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty by his or her accuser.
The courts, themselves can not even come up with an exact definition, but have tried their best through this explanation. The concept of whether or not the general public would see as a calmative group a bona fide and required limit on the situation. This limit must be logical and for the purpose of a greater good. Thus the Crown attorney carries an extremely heavy burden when attempting to find the accused guilty of his or her charges. This is thought to give the accused the fairest trial possible. In Canada this way of law is the most practical and sensible way to produce fair and just trials.
The defence attorney is the second key player in the criminal trial process. The defence attorney has a less difficult job in comparison to the Crown. This is because they merely need to install or imply reasonable doubt within the Crowns case. The defence attorney is defending a person who is charged with a criminal offence. The defence attorney’s job is to insure the accused receives the fairest trial possible, and hopefully aids the accused to be dismissed of all his or her charges. The third key player in the criminal trial procedure is the judge.
The judge or justice of the court is the sole adjudicator of most cases. The judge is the trier of both law and the facts within the case. The judge is a neutral organizer within the court, who listens to the legal defences, evidence, application of legal principles, and credibility of witnesses to accumulate an unbiased, impartial legal decision. Based on the decision the judge will either acquit the accused of all his or her charges, or sentence the accused. The fourth player in the criminal trial process, who is sometimes not even included in the process, is the jury. Juries are composed of twelve members.
They are chosen by council for the Crown and the defence from an array of potential jurors. The juries job is to listen to the case, take in all the facts, and come up with a unanimous decision or verdict for the accused. Juries can only be used in indictable criminal cases that are punishable by five or more years. Questioning: There are two types of questioning in a criminal trial.
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These two types of questioning are leading and no leading questions. Non leading questions are questions where you guide your witness through the question, prompting them to allow their story to come forth. Leading questions are questions where you are implying things to the witness, by announcing facts and statements and forcing them agree. Questioning your own witness is referred to as an examination-in-chief. Only non-leading questions may be used, this allows for the questioning to be witnessed focused. Questioning the other sides witness is referred to as cross-examination.
Leading questions should be asked. In this type of questioning council is controlling the witness, this allows for the questioning to be council focused. The purpose of an examination-in-chief is to allow your side of the story to come forward. This not only fills everyone in the courtroom in on the happenings it also allows for people to sympathise and connect with the story as well as either the victim or the accused. The purpose of a cross-examination is to weaken the other side’s case, and to bring out new evidence that is favourable to your case. A cross examination can weaken the other sides case by challenging witnesses testimony, by questioning creditability and motive, by challenging observations and by recalling evidence to put the opposite spin on it.
Evidence and Witnesses: As a general rule only relevant evidence can be admitted at a trial. A piece of evidence is relevant where it proves or disproves a fact or facts in issue. There are five main types of evidence. The first type of evidence is Direct Evidence. Direct Evidence is the testimony of a witness given as proof of fact. This type of evidence is only subject to human error.
Direct Evidence can prove secondary evidence such as credibility. The second type of evidence is Expert Witness Evidence; this is the opinion and drawn conclusions from an expert’s particular area of expertise. Generally other witnesses can not conclude like this. The third type of evidence is Indirect or Circumstantial Evidence. This type of evidence allows the interference of what happened. It is more difficult to convict a person on circumstantial evidence alone, however it can be done if the justice or jury is satisfied that the facts are inconsistent with any other rational conclusion.
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The fourth type of evidence is Hearsay Evidence. Generally Here Say Evidence is not accepted in court, because it is not the witnesses personal testimony but rather what a witness heard from someone else. Fifthly Material objects and Documents are also types of evidence. In order for something of this nature to be admitted into court it must be: reverent to the facts in issue identified through a witness continually established The creditability of a witness is also extremely important to establish.
Creditability or utmost good faith in the testimony of the witness is important because if lying is suspected it could blow your whole case out the window. Lawyers can not use the evidence of an accused or any other witnesses past bad conduct. This includes using criminal records and or past police documents. Except in the case of the exact same past conviction or whereby the truthfulness was in issue, for example in the case of perjury.
The only other way a lawyer can discredit a witness is to “trap” them on the stand. This is where the lawyer uses statements, usually in cross-examination to circle the witness into agreeing or disagree with something that they just previously did the opposite. If by doing this you actually caught them lying, rather then confusing them this in itself would discredit the witness, and would most like give an advantage to the opposing side. Advantages and Disadvantages: I believe that there are many advantages to today’s criminal trial process. One of these advantages is the way the onus is set up. I think it is good that the Crown has such a heavy burden because it imposes a constant fear into the courts of finding someone guilty who is in actual fact innocent.
Another advantage is the “golden thread”, the fact that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This is a lot different from a large number of other countries around the world, who capture people and punish them before a trial, or do not even tri them at all. Canadians are extremely lucky for that. A third advantage of our criminal trial process is simply that we are able to have a lawyer represent us and translators explain lingo to us. Tones of other countries have never even heard of a lawyer or a translator, and if they were tried would not even have a chance to defend themselves because they would not understand what the judge was saying to them. All of these advantages not only benefit the defendant, but also make law fair for everyone.
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These rules are set in place so that everyone can have a fair and just trial and that is exactly the way it should be. Some disadvantages to today’s criminal trial process are that because we have tried to make law so fair, we have tried to make a law for almost everything. This in itself puts loopholes into our system, because people argue that there was no specific law based on their type of charge, and then they are acquitted. Or if evidence is not exactly collected correctly then it is dismissed and the case may be as well.
The disadvantages to our criminal trial process may be frustrating, because people get off on technicalities, however it only better improves the rest of the system. This is why we keep our system the way it is. It is as fair as possible and the advantages far our weight the disadvantages. I personally have not studied the system long enough to fully understand everything that goes on within it. Therefore I do not know all of the flaws within it. I am however aware of the cost for lawyers and I believe this could be altered.
Yesterday in class we talked about making the legal system, i. e. – lawyers the same as doctors with an OHIO card or something along those lines. Justice Krelove brought up some reasons why he believed this would not work, but I am sure the doctors felt that way too.
I think that most lawyer would not want to do this because of fear that they would make less money (not like hey do not make enough money anyhow).
However I think it would actually benefit society as a whole. We as Canadian can go to school for free, get medical treatment for free, so why not be able to receiver legal aid for free. I don’t see why a portion of our taxes could not go to the legal system, even if that means raising taxes a little bit. If we did this it would be reasonable to go to court, and the effort and skill of the lawyers would be more equal then it is now. Insight: I personally thought that the in-class mock trial was really fun.
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I enjoyed doing the research and work it took to build a case (and believe me I did a lot of work).
I enjoyed playing the part of the lawyer and I enjoyed participating in the court ambiance. I personally feel that the mock trial is a very good learning experience and should stay in the curriculum for the feature. However if I were going to change something about the mock trial I would want to watch an old mock trial, either a school one or a class one.
This way we could see generally how court would run or flow. I also whish we would have had a list or lesson on legal and court terms or phrases so that we would use the terms more frequently and correctly.