I want to talk to you about a very interesting topic today and the issue is as follows:  Let’s say you have a criminal trial, and one of the key witnesses does not show up at your trial date. Will the charge get thrown out?  Well it’s a pretty loaded question, and it really depends on the type of criminal charge, how long the case has been in the court system and the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown’s case, but let’s take a few examples. On a domestic assault charge, this is very common, unfortunately, where a husband or a wife chooses not to show up at the trial   because they are the victim and want to get back together with the accused.  The Crowns have a long standing policy of not simply throwing a domestic assault cases out when the victim fails to respond to their subpoena and does not show up at the trial.  The judge may even ask for a warrant for that person’s arrest and the judge could direct the police to go talk to them and bring them before the court. Judges try and avoid the negative optics of arresting a victim and bringing them to jail when they can, but in some cases they will have no choice but to issue a warrant for a victim’s arrest. Whether a victim is arrested or not, the case is probably not going to get thrown out on a domestic assault.  Also if the witness is not a key witness, the Crown may not even need them and be able to proceed to prove their case without their testimony.  So that’s a domestic assault situation. Have I seen cases that are thrown out because a witness did not show up in court? Never, on a domestic assault, on a first time trial date. I have seen cases withdrawn by the Crown on some minor charges that are not that important where it was minor bar assault where no one was hurt, for example.  But typically the Crown Attorney will ask for an adjournment or an arrest warrant, depending on the situation.  Judges will potentially enforce subpoenas and issues a warrant for arrest if they are asked by the Crown, but they try to negatively affect the   victim/complainant as little as possible in terms of having the police bring them before the court first rather than arresting them and throwing them in jail.  Heavens, we do not want victims being in jail for not attending a trial, but judges also have to deal with this difficult situation and often have to make some tough decisions to issue a warrant for the police to arrest a victim   Your criminal charge is not necessarily going to get thrown out if the victim does not show up at trial. It’s definitely not going to get thrown out on a domestic assault charge at the first trial date.  However, every case is different and I would have to examine the facts of a particular case to determine the odds of the crown withdrawing the charge.   But you should know this as a victim:  you could be arrested if have been served with a subpoena to testify at a trial and choose to not attend at the trial.   A subpoena is effectively a court order which requires you to attend the trial and testify and you simply have to attend whether you want to or not.

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