Something that occasionally happens in our criminal justice system is a sexual assault victim. Let’s say a victim is truly a victim doesn’t show up for the trial for whatever reason. And I’ve had this happen to me on one occasion in the past and my client says why aren’t they just withdrawing the charge at this point why isn’t this getting dismissed? Well, I’ll give you an example on that particular case. Well, we have to have compassion for this situation that person may or may or may not be truthful. For example, they may be very nervous about testifying, anxious, scared. Judges will tend to bend over backwards in this day to allow the crown to get an adjournment to deal with the situation. For example. The crown say, look, we have to look into why. Can we get an adjournment? This person has been going through stress, etc. A crown might and they’d be lucky to do this, ask for a warrant for the person’s arrest but they’re not going to necessarily exercise the warrant.  They’re going to have the police go talk to them. What’s the reason you didn’t. So you get a warrant with discretion. So in other words, the police go talk to the person say why didn’t you show up. Well I’m psychologically affected and I can’t do it all sorts of reasons. You know, maybe I just want to recant. Maybe I wasn’t truthful. On the other hand, I might be a lying person but let’s talk about the truthful witness. I mean, there’s reasons why people don’t show up to court because of fear, scared of the accused, etc, etc. But it doesn’t necessarily just go away. In that particular case the Crown was able to get an adjournment and went and talked to the complainant. And that was it. She claimed she was fearful etc. and that’s the reason she didn’t show up and we started the trial another day after they provide some counselling and whatnot. Now, there are situations that I’ve seen this with other colleagues of mine, where witness hasn’t shown up, the complainant didn’t show up for trial where what happened was ultimately the crown withdrew the charge because the person was not psychologically able to testify. Psychiatric issues, they just couldn’t deal with the situation and that that could be a truthful witness that can be a lying witness or somewhere in between. Obviously, many victims, I’m sure the majority of victims of sexual assault are truthful, witnesses some aren’t. Don’t think that they’re not false allegations that happened and miscarriages of justice criminal justice system. So it’s not as simple as hey, the witness didn’t show up and the case is going away. A judge is going to bend over backwards to accommodate the crown. There could be reasons why a complaint is not showing up that are legitimate reasons having to do with fear and psychological issues and psychiatric issues caused by being victimized. On the other hand, it could be that they were a lying witness and didn’t want to face the truth. We don’t know or some gray area in between but, you know, client, clients are going to ask that question and that’s the public’s going to ask that question. What happens in that situation? And bear in mind, a complainant, a sexual assault victim, they’re actually subpoenaed to court. So that’s a court order that they have to be there. So the crown is entitled when they don’t show up to get a warrant for arrest, but they’re very reluctant to do that. Very reluctant, you know, and I don’t blame them. You don’t want to start throwing victims in jail because they didn’t show up because they had psychiatric issues. We have to have some compassion of the situation. And certainly I as a defence lawyer have compassion for why the many reasons why witnesses don’t show up for trial. The ones I don’t have compassion for is the odd lying witness who doesn’t want to face the music, they laid a false charge. Now they’re not showing up because they know they have to face the music from a skilled cross examiner who’s gonna expose the truth on the witness. stand and that, believe me, don’t think that doesn’t happen in Canada. Miscarriages of justice happen, and the occasional people who lie in court as well, sometimes more than occasional.

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