The Rights of the Accused

AuthorLoree Armstrong Beniuk, Jo-Anne Hughes, and Jack Reynolds
e Rights of the Accused
e accused was charged with sexual oences against two -year-old complain-
ants. At trial, one of them was a reluctant witness for both the Crown and the
defence. He became unresponsive during part of the examination by the Crown,
and this continued during cross-examination by defence counsel, when he became
unresponsive to many of the questions put to him. As a result, defence counsel
moved for a directed verdict of acquittal. e defence argued that the complainant’s
unresponsiveness during cross-examination was a breach of the accused’s right
to a fair trial…the right to cross-examine is a cornerstone of the adversarial trial
process. e trial judge had to decide whether the trial should continue aer an
incomplete cross-examination of a child witness or whether some other remedial
action should be taken.
Anna Maleszky, Crimes Against Children
Prosecutions of cases of child sexual abuse are governed by a set of rules
that are designed to protect victims and the rights of the accused. The
fundamental principles of the Canadian justice system are stated in the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and are also found in the Criminal
Code and in caselaw.
The most important tenet in Canadian criminal law is that a person is
presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.
Safeguards are in place to ensure that people accused of a crime are
treated fairly and are given the maximum opportunity to prove their inno-
cence. They have the right to:

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