PREPARING FOR TRIAL FOR YOUR TRAFFIC TICKET

If you have determined that you do have a plausible defence to use, you may now prepare for trial.

In-chief Examination of Your Witnesses

For trial, make sure your witnesses, if there are any, know the date and time they have to be in court for you. Ask them to come early so that you can briefly prepare them for the questions you plan to ask them while they are on the stand, especially if you did not have a chance to meet with them beforehand. Going over the questions before trial also ensures your witnesses' minds are refreshed and focused on the facts of the case.

Always prepare questions you plan to ask your witnesses before the trial date. Avoid asking leading questions. In other words, only ask open-ended questions and refrain from asking questions that elicit only a 'yes' or 'no' answer. When examining your own witnesses, refrain from leading them to answer a certain away.

When preparing for trial, it is good practice to ask the witnesses to give their recounting of the incident first before coming up with the questions to ask them.

In most cases, you will be taking the stand in support of your own case. Be prepared for the possible questions the prosecutor may ask you to attempt to compromise your credibility. The most important thing to remember when taking the stand is to tell the truth. This advice should also be followed by your witnesses. If you and your witnesses tell the truth, the prosecutor will have a harder time creating or identifying holes in your story.

Cross-Examining the Prosecutor's Witnesses

There is nothing more intimidating than having to cross-examine the police officer who gave you your traffic ticket. The key to cross-examination is not to ask more questions than you have to. Keep your questions brief and precise and most importantly, always ask leading questions. Leading questions ensure the officer can only answer 'yes' or 'no' to your questions and nothing more. You want the officer to give the answers you need in order to support your case. Do not provide him or her with the opportunity to say what he or she wants by asking open-ended questions.

When preparing for the cross-examination, make sure to ask the questions that will support your defence. You do not have to give away your defence during the cross-examination. You will have an opportunity later on during the closing statement to sum up the point you have been trying to support through the direct examination of your witnesses and the cross-examination of the prosecutor's witnesses. Since you already know the defence you will be using (presumably since you have decided you have one to go to trial), you should also know how you want the police officer (and other prosecutor's witnesses) to respond to your questions. Think of the questions you ask as a form of script that will inevitably lead you to your concluding argument.

Your preparation for the trial determines how the trial will pan out. If you prepared properly, you can trust that most of the trial will go as planned. If not, you will be faced with surprising facts and answers you did not anticipate thereby ruining your chances of presenting a sound case.

Avoid asking questions you do not know the answer to.
The last thing you need during trial is a new fact you did not take into account when preparing for your case. As much as possible, you should be able to predict 90% of how the trial will go so do not ask questions unless you know what the answers to them will be.

Submitting Evidence/Exhibits

You may enter evidence (for example, photos) to the court as exhibits during the in-chief examination of your witnesses or while you are on the stand. You can briefly describe them to the court, but you do not have to explain the rationale for presenting them until your submission (closing statement), unless you are asked to do so by the Justice of the Peace beforehand.

Submission/Closing Statement

As with any good presentation, a good conclusion ensures you leave a positive lasting impression, and a good impression can only increase your chances of convincing the Justice of the Peace of your arguments. During your submission, you must concisely present the facts of the case, summing up the relevant questions you asked and the corresponding answers you received during the trial, as well as any evidence you presented as exhibits, and logically tie them all together to convince the Justice of the Peace that you are not guilty of the offence.

In order to win your case, all you have to do is present that reasonable doubt exists with the prosecutor's evidence. The courts can only convict you if there is enough evidence to prove WITHOUT A REASONABLE doubt that you are guilty of the offence.


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