Department of Justice

Understanding the Court Process

Victim Services

Understanding the Court Process

If a charge has been laid against the accused, the case will enter the court system.

How Victim Services can help

Victim Services can help you understand what to expect when a case enters the court system. We can:

  • Let you know what might happen each step of the way and how you can be involved.
  • Provide emotional support.
  • Help you prepare to testify.
  • Help you prepare a Victim Impact Statement.
  • Help you understand court orders.

Victim Services works with people affected by crime. We don’t deal directly with civil court cases like divorce, contract disputes, wills and estates or personal injury claims. We can refer you to other services who might help you if you are involved in civil court.

The victims’ role in the court process

There are different opportunities for victims to participate and be heard, from the bail hearing to sentencing.

The victim does not have or need a lawyer in a criminal justice case (the Crown works for government and acts on behalf of the public, not the victim).

When a crime has been committed, the police and the courts often rely on the person who was harmed to tell them what happened.

Depending on the crime, it can take a great deal of strength and courage to tell your story. It might be difficult or embarrassing.

The court process and time required

The steps in the court process and the time it will all take depends on many things:

  • whether the accused pleads guilty or not guilty,
  • the type of crime that was committed,
  • whether the accused is an adult or a young offender,
  • the number of charges, and
  • what type of court deals with the charges.

Learn more about the court processs

To learn more about the process a case might go through, visit Steps in the Court Process, Trials, and Alternative Processes.

If the accused pleads guilty or is found guilty, they will be sentenced. You can prepare a Victim Impact Statement that will be considered in the sentencing process.

Once the person has been sentenced, you might want to learn more about probation and parole.

There is also a section on Legal Roles that describes the role of the Police, the Crown, Defendant’s Lawyer and other players. Legal Terms provides definitions of some of the terms you may come across.