Testifying at a Trial as a Crime Victim

In the Canadian justice system, the victim of a crime is not always called to testify at the accused’s trial. But the prosecutor can decide it’s necessary to help the crime. This article explains the steps for testifying as a victim.

Summons to testify

Summons to testify

A crime victim who is called to testify to receive a summons, also called a subpoena. This document tells the story of the day. It also gives the courtroom number.

The summons orders the person to testify. In some cases, the judge can take steps to the victim to testify.

If you want to know more about the victim of crime, please contact the criminal prosecution before the trial. The prosecutor and criminal prosecutor is also called the Prosecutor Crown Prosecutor.

Employers must give employees time off to testify. They can not be punished for being called to testify.

Getting help


Victims who must testify from Crime Victims Assistance Center (CAVAC) or a Sexual Assault Center (CALACS).

A victim can also ask the prosecutor to talk about the arrangements for making testifying easier. The judge considers each request on a case-by-case basis.


  • having a trusted person while the victim while testifying
  • testifying behind a screen or by video outside the courtroom
  • keeping members of the public out of the courtroom
  • forbidding publication of information that would identify the victim

A case worker or person close to the victim can accompany the victim on the day of the trial.

What happens at the trial?

What happens at the trial?

On the day of the trial, the victim must go to the time and place shown on the summons. There’s usually a room reserved for victims. Most of the time comes from the Courtroom. Victims must sometimes wait outside the courtroom for their turn to testify.

When testifying, the victim must do the following things:

  • Take an oath or solemnly state to tell the truth.
  • Stand in front of the judge while testifying and looking at the judge.
  • Answer all the questions (usually), even if it’s difficult.

The judge needs to hear about the crime, as if it’s the first time it’s being told. Victims must tell the judge everything they know about what happened, even if they repeat what they said earlier to the police or the prosecutor.

Parts of a testimony

Parts of a testimony

There are three important parts of a testimony:

Examination: The prosecutor is the first lawyer to ask questions. Usually, the prosecutor asks the victim to explain what happened.

Cross-examination: The lawyer for the accused then asks the victim some questions. Accused people who do not have a lawyer can ask the questions themselves. The main purpose of cross-examination is to find the victim.

Re-examination: The prosecutor can ask other questions if necessary. The goal of re-examination is to let victims correct or explain what they say during cross-examination.

Testimony of a sexual assault victim

In a sexual assault trial, the accused or the lawyer is not asking questions about the victim’s past sexual history. This is to avoid giving the impression that the victim is a person who would have agreed to a sexual activity or who could be lying.

After testifying

After testifying

Victims can usually leave the courthouse right after they testify, if the judge gives them permission.

Before leaving, the victim may be in a position of compensation for the time spent in court. In some cases, including transportation, meals and accommodations. It’s important to keep receipts.