Should you testify in your domestic assault trial? Well, that’s a very loaded question. So first of all, in Canada, we have the right to remain silent so you do not have to testify but in a typical domestic assault trial, it’s typically not always but your word against the complainant like whether you’re a man charged with domestic assault and whether you’re a woman is going to be your word against you, boyfriend or husband, as the case may be. Or girlfriend or wife now what happens so the complainant the victim takes the witness stand and they’re examined in chief by the Crown prosecutor then they’re cross examined by myself for example now I have prepared my client like we have gone through this for hours. Through mock examination chief in our office mock cross examination so that I am very confident that they’re going to do well on the witness stand across because it is you know whether you’re telling the truth or whether you’re lying in a courtroom or in between you know, that has nothing to do with the way you come across. I mean, the most truthful witness in the world could come across so brutally that they sound like a liar because some people are nervous or not prepared and the same with accusers. Same with complainants. I’ve seen complainants who are probably telling the truth and come across terribly. I’ve also seen whining complainants come across fantastically, a sociopath, able to lie, men, women, very easily and very capably. And but with proper preparation. That’s the key to winning these cases to get your client properly prepared. So, at the end of the victim’s testimony, you and your mind as defense counsel, I’m going to say to myself, well, how did I do? How is her credibility and reliability right now in the Judge’s mind have I raised a reasonable doubt. Now, if the answer that is compelling, and I say compelling, yes. My practice might be to say the client, look, I think we can get away without you testifying. I think we’ve made significant inroads. It’s so obvious, but it’s risky. It has to get to that point for me if I’m going, if I have any doubt in my mind, because I may disagree with the judge. I may say I try to be objective. I try to look at the case from above as a judge, I have finished How did I do? okay, what is the status of this case in the judge’s mind right now? Do I need to call my client? Now bear in mind, I know that he or she is properly prepared. I know they’re going to do a good job because I grilled them for literally 10 hours. I have three sessions with my clients on this. So, you would only be for me, every case is different, but it only be for me in a case that I’m so convinced of the reasonable doubt at the end of the cross examination that I might not call the client. That’s a hard case a grey area, right? It’s a difficult decision but so in other words, usually in domestic assault cases, most of the cases I’ve done, I’ve called the client to good effect. I’m usually happy with that decision because they do a good job, especially in a case where we’ve already got reasonable doubt it only adds more. It’s been rare for my experience to have a client not testified well on the witness stand in the cases I’ve done its just true effort. It takes effort and hours. But it’s a client’s decision. Ultimately, some clients I have come across, I must say I’ve come across the odd client in my career, who’s just not a person who’s able to speak in public if you can’t speak in public, you’re screwed in a courtroom. You may be the most truthful person in the world, you’re not going to come across well, you can be destroyed by a good lawyer, and that happens to complainants all the time or telling the truth. It happens to accused. Some accused are innocent by the way. I know people don’t like defence counsel necessarily, but there are innocent accused and there are innocent accused’s who can who are not good speakers, and you’re not going to come across well and it’s hard to prepare those people. But you know, you do the best you can in that situation. So, it’s a loaded question should I testify? Really, every case is different. The bottom line in a domestic assault is this. You should usually testify unless the reasonable doubt is so compelling that you’re you know the judge is going to acquit and it’s a risky decision even then, because you may miss read it the safe bet with a properly prepared client. The very safe bet because you know they’re going to do well if their properly prepared is to call this witness and let the let the chips fall. So that’s it in a nutshell, should I testify in a domestic assault case?

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