The Case Against You

Last Reviewed: October 2022 Reviewed by: JES Download

As the accused, you are innocent until proven guilty. It is the Crown’s responsibility to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge or jury has a reasonable doubt, they must find you not guilty. You are not required to present any evidence or defence at all if you do not want to. You may decide to argue that the prosecutor has not met the burden of proof. You may decide to present a specific defence. You are not required to do either, but you may wish to do one or both. To decide how to proceed, you should get legal advice and you should know what the Crown needs to prove.

Generally, the Crown needs to prove:

  1. The time and location of the offence
  2. The identity of the offender i.e. that it was actually you who committed the offence
  3. That all the elements of the offence actually took place. 

The Crown will try to prove their case by examining witnesses and presenting evidence to the court. Consider the strength of the Crown’s case on all these points. Try to figure out what witnesses or evidence they will use to prove each point and whether there are any weaknesses, biases or inconsistencies. Think about how you can bring those weaknesses out in court.

Time and location

Time and location are usually straightforward to prove and just means that the Crown must show that the crime took place at the time and location stated in the Information.


The Crown must prove identity by showing that the person who committed the offence was actually you. This is often done through eye witnesses or video security tape. Consider the strength and reliability of the evidence. Did the witness have a good view? Do they need glasses but were not wearing them at the time? Is the video clear? Did they actually identify you, or did they simply see someone with the same general description? If there are questions on these points or others you can argue that there is not enough evidence to prove it was you beyond a reasonable doubt.

Providing an alibi witness is another effective way of raising a reasonable doubt as to the identity of the offender. An alibi is a witness who can say you were somewhere completely different at the time of the offence and so could not have committed it. If you intend to present an alibi witness you should get advice from a lawyer as you must let the prosecutor know ahead of time. 

Elements of the offence

Each criminal offence can be broken down into essential elements that the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Basically, they must show that the act of committing the crime took place, and that you had the right mental state to be found guilty. What exactly this entails depends on the wording of the offence and the way the wording has been interpreted in past case law. 


Mental State


Assault s.265(1)(a) of the Criminal Code

The intentional

Use of force against another person, directly or indirectly, without that person’s consent (agreement)

Possession of a controlled substance, s.4(1) of the Controlled Substances Act

Knowledge that they have a controlled substance in their possession

Has a controlled substance in their possession

Criminal negligence, s.219 of the Criminal Code

Shows wanton or reckless disregard for live or safety of others

Did anything or omitted to do something that it was their legal duty to do


Depending on the circumstances, you may try to raise a reasonable doubt in an assault case by arguing that it was an accidental use of force and not intentional. Or perhaps that the other person had in fact consented and it was a mutual fight. You may do this by questioning Crown witnesses or calling your own witnesses (including yourself if you choose). 

Each offence is different so be sure to look up the offence you are charged with. The Information will tell you the act and section number for each of your charges. 

DIY Tools

Legal Aid BC has publications on how to defend yourself against specific charges including assault, breaching a court order, and possession under $5000. See their publications page to find the guides.

Need Legal Help?

LIVEMon - Fri
11 AM - 2 PM
call-jesCall or Text Free