Pre-Trial Strategy: Disclosure

The Crown has a legal duty to disclose all relevant information to you. [1] Courts believe that you and the prosecutor should address your charge(s) on the basis of complete information. There should be no surprises at your trial. You should know everything before it starts. That means you should know exactly what the prosecutor is going to present to the justice to prove your guilt: the evidence he has, the witnesses he will call, what they are going to testify, the witnesses he won’t call to testify, the statements they made, the statements you made to the cop, etc. Everything.

In order to find out everything before your trial, you are going to request disclosure. You are telling the prosecutor "I want to know everything before the trial. Give it to me."

You are doing this for three reasons:

  • First, so you can prepare a good defence against the charge(s).
  • Second, if the prosecutor fails to disclose relevant information or fails to give you enough time to review it before trial, you can make a procedural argument of inadequate disclosure. Basically you will argue that you are not getting a fair trial because you did not get to see all the evidence or that the trial needs to be adjourned until the prosecutor provides the information to you.
  • Finally, the prosecutor is more likely to withdraw the charge against you if she knows that you know she did not give you complete disclosure.
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1. See R. v. Stinchcombe, [1991] 3 S.C.R. 326