Once you are outside the courtroom do not walk around. Crown witnesses, including the police officer, could see you and compare your walk that day with your walk on the day of the offence.
Likewise, don’t speak. Your speech can similarly be compared. Many people go in expecting not to speak but then their cell phone rings and they answer it. Turn your cell phone off as soon as you enter the law courts building. If you forget, and the phone rings just outside the courtroom, let it ring or shut it off. As well, if you have come with a friend, you may whisper, but only when no one is around.
Stay seated just outside the courtroom until the lawyer arrives. Stay seated until he or she tells you otherwise.
If you have to use the bathroom or smoke, do that well ahead of time. We do not want to adjourn soon after the trial has started.
Be sober. If you come to court with alcohol on your breath, your lawyer will be unable to proceed and may bill you for the cost of the adjournment or withdraw as counsel. We will not bill you for an adjournment except if the reason for the adjournment was clearly avoidable and was due to your negligence or lack of sobriety.
If you will want water during the trial, ask someone to get it for you. Don’t do it yourself because you’re not supposed to be walking around.
If you need a break because you have to use the washroom or you may be sick, slip your lawyer a note. Do not whisper in his or her ear. Your lawyer may miss something that a witness has said.
Although your lawyer may not intend to call you to testify, he may decide that you should on the basis of what has been heard through the Crown’s case. That is a decision for you and your lawyer to make. The Crown cannot call you as a witness. You can never be forced to testify. You have the right to remain silent up until the end.
Once the matter begins you will normally be seated beside your lawyer. Usually Crown counsel is seated closest to the witness box. In some courts that is on the right and others on the left.
Even though you are not testifying, you have a role to play. The judge will be watching you. Please keep that in mind.
If someone says something during the trial which makes you angry, don’t slam down your pen, start huffing and puffing, roll your eyes, sigh loudly, raise your eyebrows or suggest your feelings through your body language. Trust your lawyer. He or she will deal with it appropriately.
Similarly, treating the proceedings as a joke, appearing bored, excessively sleepy or impatient are behaviours which will not be tolerated. What you should do is look alert, interested, calm and intelligent.
If you are convicted, don’t forget that you have 30 days in which to appeal the conviction. The lawyer should be able to give you some idea of the chance of success on appeal after the trial. He or she may have a better idea of the likelihood of success after a review of the transcripts.
Don’t leave the courthouse without signing the necessary documents, such as a “Time to Pay” slip if you were given time to pay a fine, a driving prohibition if your license was suspended or prohibited, or a probation order if probation was ordered. If the Judge ordered a driving prohibition, be sure not to drive until the end of the prohibition period and you have a valid operator’s license once more in your possession. If convicted of driving while prohibited, even for a first offence, you will most likely be given a thirty day sentence.