Evidence In The Criminal CourtsPresentation Transcript
Rules of Evidence
Developed over many years, very complex
Found in common and statute law
If admissibility of evidence is in question, a voir dire will be held – a trial within a trial
All witnesses are protected from self-incrimination and evidence must not be used to incriminate that witness in any other proceeding
Testimony or other proof which expressly or straight-forwardly proves the existence of a fact.
There is no inference or presumption.
A collection of facts that, when considered together, can be used to infer a conclusion about something unknown.
Usually a theory, supported by a significant quantity of corroborating evidence
If a witness testifies that the defendant was seen entering a house, then screaming was heard, then the defendant was seen leaving, carrying a bloody knife, that is circumstantial evidence; if a witness testifies that he/she actually saw the defendant stabbing the victim, that is direct evidence. Similarly, if a videotape is entered into evidence showing the defendant entering the house, stabbing the victim, and leaving the house, that too is direct evidence.
Any communications that cannot be required to be presented in court as evidence.
Spouses, parisioners and clergy, patients and doctors, lawyers and clients
There are exceptions to the rule related to spouses
Similar Fact Evidence
Evidence that shows the accused has committed similar offences in the past.
Used by the Crown to imply that the accused has committed the offence before and thus again.
Discredits the accused’s past
Can be extremely damaging and will often not be allowed
Something that someone other than the witness has said or written.
Usually not admitted as evidence. However…
An out-of-court statement may be admitted, but only as proof it was made, not its content
If quoting a person who was dying
Must be necessary and reliable
What an expert witness thinks about certain facts in a case
Unless the expert is qualified, his or her opinion is generally inadmissable
To be admitted it must be relevant and necessary to help the judge or jury make a decision.
Can be powerful as the witness may be seen as infallible. Such evidence should only be allowed if the topic is outside the ‘experience and knowledge of a judge or jury’
The Crown may not use questions to indicate the accused has a criminal character or nature
The defence is allowed to use character evidence to support the accused’s credibility
If the defence does this, the Crown may then present Similar Fact Evidence
May be entered as evidence if they can be identified to be an accurate portrait of the crime scene
If meant to merely inflame the jury, the evidence may not be allowed
Electronic Devices and Video
Only admissible if the rules have been followed
Generally this means a warrant
Police may intercept communications if they believe the situation to be an emergency
If one person consents, there may be a recording
This should treated as a last resort
Public video surveillance does not need warrants, but one on private property do
Are considered hearsay and thus inadmissible
Operator could only speak to whether the test took place, not the answers given.
Any statement made by an individual who was not told of his rights, can be excluded
A statement can be inculpatory (admission) or exculpatory (denial)
If there is reason to believe that a confession was not voluntary, it may be rejected (promising leniency can cause this)
Illegally Obtained Evidence
Would admitting the evidence bring the ‘administration of justice into disrepute’? This relies on whether ‘the reasonable person’ fully informed of the facts, would be shocked if a judge allowed the evidence to be admitted.