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between trial and appeal

Key Differences Between Trial and Appeal: What to Expect in Ottawa Courts

Those with little knowledge of the Canadian legal system often have no idea that the trial and appeals process are so different. It makes sense to assume that an appeal is simply another trial when, in truth, that’s not the case at all.

Thankfully, we’re here to help you understand the key differences between trials and appeals. We’ll break down exactly how they differ so you know exactly what to expect from the legal process. By the end, you’ll be able to take your next steps with a lot more clarity.

What Happens at a Trial?

Trials are the cornerstone of the legal process in any democratic country. They are where disputes are initially presented with the evidence examined and judgements made. Let’s first look at the key features of a criminal trial.

Adversarial Nature – Trials are adversarial, meaning they have two opposing parties going against each other. The plaintiff and the defendant will each present their arguments (usually backed by their chosen lawyers) and try to prove their case by examining the facts.

Jury vs. Judge – In Ottawa, as in the rest of Canada, the nature of the case dictates whether a jury or a judge alone will decide the outcome. Criminal cases often involve a jury, whereas a judge typically decides civil cases, but this isn’t always the way.

Evidence Presentation – In a criminal trial, evidence will be presented. This can be through witness testimonies, documents, and exhibits. The facts of the case will be established, and witnesses can be cross-examined.

Decision-Making – A judgment will be made once all the facts have been determined. In criminal cases, this is usually a guilty or not guilty verdict. In civil cases, the judgment will be made for the plaintiff or the defendant.

What Happens at an Appeal?

Following a trial, either party has the right to appeal, but only when they believe there were errors in the process. The appeals process is there to help prevent any miscarriages of justice, and here are its key features.

Non-Adversarial Nature – Appeals don’t have the courtroom battles you often see on TV shows. Instead, they are non-adversarial. There will be no witnesses, and instead, criminal appeal lawyers will have a more technical focus on reviewing the trial process and legal arguments.

Review of Errors – Crucially, an appeal is to review if there were any errors made during the trial process. There will be no reexamination of existing evidence. Instead, your criminal appeal lawyers Toronto will look at specific issues such as misapplication of the law, misinterpretation of facts, or procedural mistakes.

Oral Arguments – The appeal process typically focuses on appeal lawyers presenting their oral arguments as to why they believe an error has been made. The important distinction is that the appeal lawyers criminal expertise will focus on legal issues rather than factual disputes.

Decision on Appeal – The appeal court will not decide on guilty or not guilty. Instead, they have various options, such as affirming the trial court’s decision, overturning it, or ordering a new trial. The goal is to correct any errors.

decision on appeal

Key Differences and Expectations in Ottawa Courts

From these key features, you’ll already see how the two have some significant variations. Let’s take a closer look at the key differences between trial and appeal.

Nature of Proceedings – In a trial, evidence is presented, witnesses are examined, and a judgment is rendered. In contrast, appeals will focus on legal arguments and reviewing potential errors. As mentioned earlier, this is adversarial vs non-adversarial. Added to this, in a trial, you have a plaintiff and a defendant but in an appeal, this turns into an appellant and respondent.

The Courts Used – Trials typically occur in the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice, depending on the case. Appeals take place in the Court of Appeal for Ontario for cases originating in Ottawa, or are referred to the Supreme Court in rare cases.

Presentation of Evidence – Trials will involve a presentation of the evidence in its various forms to establish the facts of the case. In contrast, appeals don’t involve any new evidence but rely on the trial record.

Legal Expertise – Legal expertise is needed at both trials and appeals, but both require a different skill set. Lawyers need to be well-versed in the process, so it’s important to hire the best criminal appeal lawyers for appeals and a criminal lawyer for trials.

Law firms can offer both criminal trial and appeal lawyers, but it’s important to check they have a strong track record of success. It’s important to remember that the focus of expertise differs, with trial lawyers presenting evidence and witnesses, and appellate lawyers specializing in legal arguments and precedent.

Timeframe – While the timeframes can vary, many criminal trials can be relatively swift, especially in lower courts. In contrast, appeals may take longer due to the review process and the complexity of legal arguments.

Outcomes – The outcomes of trials and appeals differ significantly. In trials, the outcome is a judgment or verdict. This will result in legal consequences, such as imprisonment in criminal cases or monetary awards in civil cases. Appeals focus on the fairness and legality of the trial process, with the potential outcome being a correction of errors or a new trial.

Final Thoughts

In Ottawa courts, as in the rest of the Canadian legal system, trials and appeals are two distinct but interconnected components of the judicial process. Trials are the initial stage where evidence is presented, and judgments are made.

On the other hand, appeals serve as a mechanism for reviewing the fairness and legality of the trial process, focusing on legal arguments and correcting errors. If you’re looking for further help or legal representation from appeal lawyers Ottawa, contact AGP LLP today. We’ll happily review your case and see how we can help.

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