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  1. #1
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    Witness in Trial

    Currently I'm working on a story that involves a trial case, which is done from the perspective of a witness. I have been doing research on the British legal system to have an idea of how the Ministry is possibly run, but I still need help for how a trial actually works. I found this thread, but I still have some unanswered questions.

    To give you an idea of what the defendant is accused of: "conspiracies against the Ministry, assault of an Auror, stealing confidential papers, use of the Cruciatus Curse and other curses, the attempted murder of ______, and for keeping Miss Weasley hostage for the course of five months." Miss Weasley (OC) is the witness and she happens to be in a romantic relationship with the defendant (known to all). The main argument is that the defendant was under "duress of circumstances" (meaning it was a necessity to do what he did) because of a Pureblood Alliance Contract, which if he didn't follow through with, it would result in Miss Weasley's death.

    - During a witness' time in court, what exactly happens? (i.e. questions asked, process, etc.)
    - After the witness has presented what the know, are they allowed to leave the country or do they have to stay until the trial has finished?
    - Would it be logical in Wizarding court to have "guilty until proven innocent"?
    - How long does a trial last (average)?

    I know I have more questions, and I'll put them here once I remember.

    Thank you.

    - Mercy

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  2. #2
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    During a witness' time in court, what exactly happens? (i.e. questions asked, process, etc.)
    Well, it will be very much like an American Trial, except in this country we still wear those wigs and things. The witness will be in the witness box, will swear an oath on whatever book belongs to their religion. He/She will be examined by the prosecution first (ie- asked questions) and then cross-examined by the defence. If he or she gets emotional then the judge can/ Prosecution can ask for a break.

    After the witness has presented what the know, are they allowed to leave the country or do they have to stay until the trial has finished? I think they can leave the country, unless one of the lawyers asks for permission to recall the witness. They after all are not on trial.
    Would it be logical in Wizarding court to have "guilty until proven innocent"?
    No, unless the laws have changed. Harry, when on trial, is innocent until proved guilty. I can't see Kingsley (if he's Minister of Magic) changing this rule. However, you have some wriggle room, because in times of war, things changed. Sirius was sent to Azkaban without trial.

    - How long does a trial last (average)?
    That depends on the witnesses, the complexity of the case and whether the defendent pleads guilty. If he pleads guilty then it could be very short - just setting out the case and explaining mitigating circumstances - perhaps 2-3 days. If he's pleading not guilty then you have to allow time for the jury/Wizengamot to retire to reach a decision - ALTHOUGH - Harry's case was decided by a show of hands - there were no deliberations.

    Carole
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    Fourth Year Hufflepuff
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    Thank you, Carole. I was going to ask you to go more specific about questioning the witnesses, but another look at the thread I posted above answered it (I just hadn't looked at it properly).

    I have another question. Doing a little research, I found that there was a double jeopardy case in Britain in 2006 (can't put up the link because of no external links, but you can always do the search). Does this mean that Britain does practice this, and that if convicted innocent or guilty one time and the same case is brought up later (possibly with new evidence), another trial can be held?

    - Mercy

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  4. #4
    MorganRay
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    trials

    - After the witness has presented what the know, are they allowed to leave the country or do they have to stay until the trial has finished?

    I don't believe witnesses are allowed to leave the country. However, I think this also depends on the importance of the witness. Some trials have 'expert witnesses' that usually are scientists, psycologists, or experts in another field vital to the trial or pertaining to evidence at hand. Anyway, key witnesses might be put under witness protection or closely monitored because of their importance in providing motive.


    Would it be logical in Wizarding court to have "guilty until proven innocent"?

    Okay, this is a difficult one for me because in the books, we obviously see this is the grounds on which trails are conducted. However, you could read the trials we see during the HP books one of two ways: 1) these trials are the normal way in the wizarding world for conducting trials or 2) these trials are abnormal, and after Voldemort falls, the Wizarding court will be reformed. If you see the HP trials as option one, then yes, "guilty until proven innocent" is very legit. If you see 2 as the more plausible scenario, then the "guilty until proven innocent" motto might not really apply because "guilty until proven innocent" is a really bad way to conduct a trial because you can usually not prove a person 100% innocent beyond reasonable doubt.

    - How long does a trial last (average)?

    Whose trial? It could last one day or several days. Carole really answered this question very well. If it's a simple case, one day, but if the case involves several witnesses and is more complex, then several days.

  5. #5
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    Mercy - I've just googled that case. The law was changed in this country partly down to that case. The killer, originally aquitted, confessed to the crime whilst inside for something else.

    As the law stands now, if new evidence is found and it's substantial new evidence, then someone can be retried. I think it would be down to DNA, new witnesses and maybe a confession from the killer/perpetrator. It couldn't be just because the police wanted another crack at the case.

    They'd have to submit evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether there could be a new trial. Defence could easily argue that there isn't enough evidence.

    If someone is found guilty and they're innocent then they can ask for an appeal. This isn't the same as Double Jeopardy. They are asking for the case to be heard again probably because of missing evidence, or a pecieved flaw in the Prosecution's case. Also if the Judge has made a biased speech in his summing up and is seen to have 'misdirected' the jury, then that can be grounds for a retrial/ appeal.

    Carole

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