After all the evidence is presented, you will be able to speak to the judge or jury to persuade them that you are not guilty. Both you and Crown will have the opportunity to summarize the evidence and make arguments (also known as “submissions”). Your closing arguments should be focused on how the Crown has failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and that they should find you not guilty. This could involve:
- why some evidence is stronger or weaker
- why a particular witness should or should not be believed
- pointing to other weaknesses in the Crown’s case
Your arguments must be based on the evidence or lack of evidence presented during your trial—you cannot use new evidence. If you presented evidence for your case, you will make your argument first, and the prosecutor will go second. If you did not present evidence, the Crown will go first.
The judge or jury decides if you are guilty after hearing all the evidence and the submissions. If it is a judge alone, the judge will explain their reasons for their decision. A jury will not give their reasons and only state whether they find you guilty or not guilty. If you are found not guilty (acquitted), you can leave. But if you are found guilty you will either have a sentencing hearing right away or your hearing will be delayed so you and the Crown can get ready. See Sentencing.
Appealing your conviction
You may have the right to appeal your conviction but you must act quickly. You must file your Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the date that your sentence was imposed. You should get legal advice as soon as possible. Go to CourtofAppealBC.ca to learn more about how to appeal your conviction.