Without evidence of domestic assault, do I still have to go to court?
There’s no evidence that anything ever happened between me and my spouse, just what they told police. How can this even go to court without any type of evidence?
Everyone has seen television shows that depict courtroom trials: often we see the use of forensic evidence used by the crown to get a conviction. It’s important to note that evidence is not always scientific. Courts can hear and consider many different types of evidence to decide their case. It is important to note that you do not have to prove that you are innocent: the Crown must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the offence of which you are charged.
Physical evidence: sometimes injuries will be documented by doctors, hospital staff, police, or pictures. People who have documented the injuries will be asked to testify about what they documented, when and where the pictures or observations were taken. Torn clothes and weapons can also be considered physical evidence, and they may be brought to court.
Forensic evidence: sometimes, scientific evidence is used in a case, such as fingerprints, DNA results, or toxicology reports. Most domestic assault cases do not use forensic evidence.
Witness testimony: this is the most common type of evidence. When a person testifies, what they say is under oath. They promise to tell the truth. That testimony is evidence. A witness’s testimony, what they say happened, is evidence that the judge must consider. The judge will consider the reliability of their evidence, and their credibility, and come to a decision as to if they believe what they have been told or if they have doubts about it’s veracity or truthfulness.
Sometimes witnesses will speak about past events, and discuss incidents from many years ago. Often, there are no pictures, texts, emails or videos that confirm these incidents took place. It is important to note that physical evidence is not necessary in a trial. The evidence heard by the judge can sometimes only involve witness testimony.
When your lawyer prepares your trial, they are preparing a good cross-examination that will lead a judge to doubt the witness’s testimony. There may be gaps in the witness’s mind, forgetfulness, exaggerations, impossibilities and contradictions, which will be used to show that the statement cannot be relied upon.