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How Trial Will Proceed

In Canada, trials are held in English or in French, dependent upon the accused’s language of preference.

A plaintiff, defendant, accused or witness may need an interpreter to understand questions asked in court, and to ensure their responses are clearly understood by the court. Court interpreters are available to translate court proceedings in oral and sign language.

Sign language interpreters are retained by Court Services in all types of court proceedings. Court Services retains oral interpreters for the following situations:

  • Provincial and Supreme Court criminal adult and youth cases;
  • family cases in Provincial Court;
  • traffic court cases;
  • municipal bylaw cases; and
  • upon court order, in any court.

Crown counsel, where one is appointed, will arrange for Court Services to provide an interpreter in the above cases.

Where there is no Crown counsel (for example, in family cases), you should make sure the court knows an interpreter is needed well in advance of the court date. Contact the interpreter clerk at the court registry where the case is being held and explain the situation.

Testimony of the Accused

Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the accused has the choice to testify in his or her own defence. The accused cannot be forced to testify by Crown. You can ask your Victim Support Worker, if one is available to you in your area, or Crown counsel to tell you when it is known if the accused will testify or not.

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