Tips for Preparing for a Criminal Trial in Canada

PUBLISHED ON December 21, 2023

Are you facing criminal charges in Canada? The legal process can be overwhelming, so you need to go into a trial fully prepared. Learn essential tips for preparing for a criminal trial in Canada so you can enter the courtroom with confidence and knowledge of the judicial system.

Understand Your Rights and Protections

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms outlines the basic rights of any citizen facing criminal charges. They include:

  • The right to remain silent: Your responses to police questions can be used against you, so you are free to remain silent during questioning. 
  • The right to a fair trial: You have the right to a fair, timely trial to determine your guilt or innocence. 
  • The right to counsel: Every defendant facing trial has the right to legal representation. 
  • Protection against double jeopardy: In Canada, you cannot be tried for the same criminal offence twice. That is, if your first trial ends with an acquittal unless the prosecutor successfully appeals the matter, you cannot be tried again for it; the matter is over.
  • Right to a trial: This right entitles everyone charged with a criminal offence to have their trial heard within a reasonable time. 

Different Trials for Different Offences

In Canada, criminal offences are classified as either “summary,” “hybrid,” or “indictable” offences. The minor offences, such as “causing a disturbance,” are “summary” offences and will be tried at the Ontario Court of Justice. More serious crimes, such as robbery or murder, are considered “indictable” offences. These types of criminal trials come with greater penalties and often take more time to complete. Trials for these types of matters can be heard at the Superior Court of Justice before a judge or before a judge sitting with a jury after having had a preliminary hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice. Many criminal offences, however, are classified as “hybrid” offences. With a hybrid offence, the prosecutor can choose if they want to proceed summarily or by indictment.    

Navigating the Canadian Legal System

As stated above, it will often be the case where you can choose where your trial will be heard. Even for many indictable offences, you may wish to have your trial at the Ontario Court of Justice even though you could go to the Superior Court of Justice and have your trial before a judge and jury. Your lawyer will be able to provide valuable insight into factors to consider when making your choice.   

If you have any concerns about the trial and potential penalties you face, an experienced criminal lawyer can answer your questions, too. They understand the complexities of the law and can make informed decisions about all aspects of your case. 

Practice Proper Courtroom Etiquette

Whether your trial is heard at the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice, the courtroom etiquette will be the same.  You should:

  • Dress appropriately.
  • Use formal titles and respectful language.
  • Maintain your composure during proceedings.
  • Keep distracting behaviour out of the courtroom, such as chewing gum or using a cell phone.

Your lawyer will familiarize you with the justice participants, courtroom positions, and all manner of courtroom issues that regularly occur through preliminary hearings and trials.

Consult With a Criminal Defence Lawyer

Of the many tips for preparing for a criminal trial in Canada, one that is extremely crucial is to consult with a professional lawyer. Criminal defence lawyers can advocate for you in court in hopes of ending the trial with an acquittal. To receive advice for criminal trials in Canada, contact experienced lawyer Brian Ross at (416) 658-5855. Request more information today.


A criminal record can have lifelong ramifications. Don't take a chance with an inexperienced attorney. I will fight to get your life back as I have done with countless others before you.

(416) 658-5855

Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

Selected for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 editions of the Best Lawyers in Canada

Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in Canada is based on a rigorous peer-review survey. Recognition by Best Lawyers symbolizes excellence in practice and specifically, high calibre work in criminal defence.


Mr. Ross is a member of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association and Legal Aid Ontario’s “Extremely Serious Matters” Panel, consisting of criminal lawyers deemed to have the proven experience necessary to conduct trials in the most serious of criminal matters.


You will be contacted to discuss the case in confidence.