As an accused in a criminal trial, you must be given adequate time and the facilities to prepare your defence.

This means that the court must not examine your case hastily without giving you an adequate opportunity to prepare for it. 

example You must be given enough time and the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the case file, to meet your lawyer, to review new evidence, or receive the full judgement in a timely manner before the deadline for an appeal. 

Time to prepare for the trial

You must be given reasonable time to prepare for the trial. This means you must be given enough time to read the case file and the law, and to prepare your arguments for the court. However, you must remember that adequate time must be given only for the preparations that are necessary for the trial.

example If your defence lawyer has already reviewed the entire case file, the court may refuse to grant you additional time for reading it yourself. 

The adequacy of the time will be assessed taking into account a number of factors such as:

  • the complexity of your case
  • the stage of the proceedings
  • what is at stake for you in the trial 

example If your case involves multiple episodes or a large number of documents and witnesses, you are entitled to more time for the preparation of your defence than in a relatively simple single-episode case with only a few documents in the case file.

If the prosecution adds new evidence during the trial, you have the right to ask for additional time to familiarize yourself with that new evidence. In granting the additional time, the court must take into account the nature and importance of this evidence. 

example If the new evidence consists of hundreds of pages and is very important for the outcome of the trial, the time to prepare must be much longer than in a case where the new evidence is a couple of pages long and does not directly affect the outcome of your case.

Adequate facilities

“Adequate facilities” mean that you and your defence lawyer must be able to meet in private, to access case materials or to take copies of these materials. There may be certain evidence in the case file related to protected witnesses or national security to which you may not be given access, but your conviction should not be based on such evidence alone. Read more about evidence

If you are detained and preparing your own defence, you must be given a place where you can focus and calmly read or write to prepare for your trial.


Last updated 09/02/2017