What does it mean to claim trial to a charge?
- When you have been formally charged in Court for a criminal offence, you will need to inform the Court of the course of action you wish to you take:
- Plead guilty (i.e. you wish to admit to the charge and accept that you will be punished for the offence)
- Claim trial (i.e. you wish to deny that you committed the offence as alleged and you wish to prove your innocence or provide your defence at a trial in Court)
- If you decide to claim trial, a separate Court hearing (known as a trial) will be conducted where the Judge will consider the evidence presented and arrive at a decision as to whether the Prosecution has succeeded in proving your guilt.
- Over the course of the trial, the Prosecution will present the evidence to persuade the Court to conclude that they have proven beyond reasonable doubt that you have committed the offence alleged. Likewise, you will also present your evidence to persuade the Court to accept your basis for disputing the offence alleged or to conclude that your guilt has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
- You may engage a lawyer to represent you at a trial or you may conduct the trial on your own if you do not have a lawyer.
- If the Prosecution succeeds in proving its case against you and that you committed the offence alleged, the Judge will convict you of the charge and impose a sentence against you.
- If the Prosecution fails in proving its case against you and that you committed the offence alleged, the Judge will acquit you of the charge.