3.3 Direct Examination

After you plead not-guilty, it will be the prosecutor's turn first to present their case against you. The prosecutor will make their opening statement, and call upon their witnesses (usually a police officer). 

They will then ask the officer questions about their notes, and request permission for the officer to use their notes to refresh their memory. The Justice will ask you if you take issue with the officer's use of his or her notes.

If you properly requested disclosure, you should have a copy of the police officer's notes. If you do not have a copy, you may object to the use of these notes on the basis that you have not received them or reviewed them. 

Even if you did not request disclosure, you should still be provided with a copy of the police officer's notes at trial. You may still attempt to make the argument that the use of this material is unfair to you.

The officer’s notes alone are not really evidence, and are not enough to convict you—the police officer needs to have an independent recollection of the events to properly testify as a witness.

The prosecutor will then ask the police officer a series of general questions, all with the objective of proving the fact that you committed the offence you have been charged with. The officer will explain what he observed that day. This is called direct-examination. Pay close attention and remember the elements of the offence you were being charged with. Each element must be proven!

 

After the prosecutor finishes asking the police officer questions, 

The officer may repeat a statement you made, to use it against you. If this is done, consider objecting to the use of this statement by invoking "Voir Dire".

  • By invoking voir dire, you are essentially challenging the admissibility of the statement on the basis that you did not make those statements freely and voluntarily.
  • You are telling the court that this statement should not be used as evidence against you, because you did not make this statement voluntarily.
  • So you will need to cast doubt on the fact that you made this statement voluntarily.
  • Think about the way you made the statement—were you under pressure by the police officer? Did you feel threatened or intimidated by the police officer? Were you offered favours or promises?

If the officer breaks a rule of evidence, remember to raise an objection.

The Justice may still choose to allow the evidence nonetheless, but it will be given less weight.

Examples of bad evidence (or evidence that may break a rule of evidence) include:

  • Hearsay Evidence
  • Opinion Evidence
  • Circumstantial Evidence
  • Immaterial or Irrelevant Evidence

The prosecutor cannot ask “leading questions” during direct-examination, as doing so could influence the witnesses testimony and what they say.

Leading questions are questions that encourage a desired answer (example: “at what time did you see the accused speed over the bridge?”). 

Questions must be general and unbiased. However, make sure you understand the rules of evidence before you object and be careful on what you are objecting to, as a Justice may become annoyed if you try to object when you don't know the rules of evidence or object to trivial things.