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Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
Evidence In The Criminal Courts
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Evidence In The Criminal Courts


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  • 1.  
  • 2. 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
  • 3.  
  • 4. Direct Evidence
    • Testimony or other proof which expressly or straight-forwardly proves the existence of a fact.
    • There is no inference or presumption.
  • 5. Circumstantial Evidence
    • 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
  • 6.
    • 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.
  • 7. Privileged Communications
    • 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
  • 8. 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
  • 9. Hearsay Evidence
    • 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
  • 10. Opinion Evidence
    • 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’
  • 11. Character Evidence
    • 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
  • 12. Photographs
    • 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
  • 13. 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
  • 14. Polygraph Evidence
    • Are considered hearsay and thus inadmissible
    • Operator could only speak to whether the test took place, not the answers given.
  • 15. Confessions
    • 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)
  • 16. 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.