Step 5: Trial Strategies

What follows is very detailed information to use for your trial. Don't become overwhelmed. Take it slow. It will take you some time to go through it. It is not complex. You can do it.


  • Introduction to trials.
  • How to behave.
  • Different trial motions you can make to win.
  • How to create doubt about the evidence against you.
  • How to use trial defences that work.
  • What to do if you lose.

Is There A Lawyer In The House?

If you feel intimidated remember this: the person hearing your case is not a judge. He is a justice of the peace. He is not lawyer and has never been to law school. He has had no legal training whatsoever.

He is, however, a political appointment. That means somebody knew some politician and got this job. Shocked? Wait there's more.

The prosecutor is not a lawyer and has never been to law school. The prosecutor is an OPSEU employee. OPSEU is the Ontario Public Service Employee's Union. Remember when provincial workers like jail guards and the people who issue birth certificates or OHIP cards go on strike? That's the same union the prosecutor is in with a similar level of skill and training.

However, since the mid-1990s, the province has been downloading provincial services to municipalities. Court offices are now run by cities and prosecutors are city employees. That means there are inconsistent levels of training, experience and prosecutions across the province.[1]

Both the prosecutor and the justice of the peace go through a few weeks of training. That's it. In other words, other than the brief training and working on the job, they know as much as you do. You should never feel intimidated in court. You are just as capable as they are.

Even more important, the court has to help you with your case. In R. v. Rijal, the appeal court ruled that there is a duty for trial courts to provide meaningful assistance to unrepresented or self-represented persons who defend themselves. The court should explain the charges, the court procedures and the trial process. Even more important, the assistance should be significant enough to assist you to defend yourself with full force and effect.[2]

Have no fear. You can do this.

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1. The one exception is on rare occasions, you will see a justice with a red sash across their robe. This signifies that this person did go to law school and is a lawyer. (You have to be a lawyer in order to become a judge). But in either case, the people hearing your case are political appointments. He (or she) knew someone from the ruling political party and that's how they ended up with their job. There may also be provincial prosecutors who are lawyers but this is extremely rare as the pay scale for provincial and municipal lawyers is significantly higher than that of prosecutors.

2. See also R. v. Zimmerman, R. v. Tran, R. v. Al-Emam, and R. v. Moghaddam for other examples of the court's requirement to assist unrepresented individuals.