Admissions of Fact

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General Principles

Factual admissions are made under s. 655.

Admissions at trial
655. Where an accused is on trial for an indictable offence, he or his counsel may admit any fact alleged against him for the purpose of dispensing with proof thereof.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 582.


Though the language refers to indictable offences, it is accepted that this applies to summary convictions as well under s. 795.

Making an Admission
When a factual admission is made pursuant to s. 655 it is for the Crown to state the facts. It is not open to the accused to frame the Crown's allegations so as to conform to his own purpose and then require the Crown to admit it. [1]

A factual admission can be made by counsel in court. Counsel can state for example that: “I admit that the accused did X. I admit that when he did that act, he knew Y. I admit that at that time, the accused thought or intended Z.”

The accused can waive "strict compliance" with the rule of evidence that requires sworn testimony. Instead the accused can premit the "taking of their evidence by admitting what their evidence would be as regards certain facts if those witnesses were called".[2]

Form of Admission
This form of admission is “proper and sufficient” for findings of fact by the court under s. 655 and remove the need to adduce evidence on those issues. [3]

An agreed statement of fact should be "clear, unambiguous, precise and unequivocal before acceptance by the court".[4]

Formal admissions cannot be made until there has been an allegation put against them. [5]

Effect of a Agreement Statement of Facts
If the Crown and Defence put forward evidence by submission that constitutes an agreed statement of facts, then it should be accepted by the trial judge as “conclusive of the admitted facts".[6]

If the accused makes an admission of fact, the Crown should not be allowed to refuse to accept it and then lead evidence on the issue. Once admitted, it is no longer a issue at trial.[7] The evidence covering the admitted facts and therefore must be excluded as irrelevant.[8]

The process used to generate an agreed statement of fact does not satisfy threshold reliability to be admissible for the truth of its contents under the principled exception to hearsay.[9]

Withdraw of Admission
Once an admission of fact is made it cannot be withdrawn without leave of the court.[10]

Contrast with Admission of Law
An admission of law or mixed fact and law is not binding upon a judge.[11] Such an admission can be withdrawn at any time, including on appeal.[12]

Admission of law includes opinion of whether evidence satisfies the legal requirements of legislative provision.[13]

  1. R v Castellani, 1969 CanLII 57 (SCC), [1970] SCR 910 at p. 315
    R v Dearborn (1991), 1991 CanLII 7567 (SK QB), 91 Sask. R. 112 affirmed, (1992) 97 Sask. R. 282, 1992 CanLII 8215 (SK CA)
    R v Curry (1980), 38 N.S.R. (2d) 575 (NSCA)(*no CanLII links) at para 26
    R v Falconer, 2016 NSCA 22 (CanLII) at para 45 ("Once tendered, formal admissions under s. 655 of the Criminal Code are conclusive for the trier of fact. Subject to relief being granted from the consequence of the admission, the fact admitted is conclusively established. It is not open to challenge.")
  2. R v Matheson, 1981 CanLII 202 (SCC), [1981] 2 S.C.R. 214 at p. 217
  3. R v Miljevic, 2010 ABCA 115 (CanLII) at para 18
    See also McWilliams’ Canadian Criminal Evidence pp. 22-2 to 22-5, 22-9 to 22-11 (4th ed. 2009); 9 Wigmore, Evidence in Trials at Common Law 822-24 (Chadbourne ed. 1981)
    R v Haimour, 2010 ABQB 7 (CanLII) at para 27
    R v Picariello, [1923] 2 D.L.R. 706, 716 (S.C.C.), (1923), 39 CCC 229
    R v Castellani 1969 CanLII 57 (SCC), [1970] SCR 310 at 315-17
    R v Park 1981 CanLII 56 (SCC), [1981] 2 SCR 64 at 73
    R v Matheson, 1981 CanLII 202 (SCC), [1981] 2 SCR 214 at 217
    R v Fertal, 1993 ABCA 277 (CanLII), (1993) 145 A.R. 225 at paras 7-9 (C.A.)
    R v Proctor 1992 CanLII 2763 (MB CA), (1992) 5 Man. R. (2d) 217, 69 CCC (3d) 436, 447 (C.A.)
    MacDonald, supra, at paras 32-33
    R v Fong 1994 ABCA 267 (CanLII), (1994) 157 A.R. 73 (C.A.) at paras 6-8
    R v Desjardins, 1998 CanLII 6149 (BC CA), (1998) 110 BCAC 33 at para 18
  4. R v Asp, 2011 BCCA 433 (CanLII) at para 40
  5. Castellani, supra
  6. R v Baksh 2005 CanLII 24918, (2005), 199 CCC (3d) 201 (Ont. S.C.J.)
  7. R v Proctor, 1992 CanLII 2763 (MB CA), (1992) 69 CCC (3d) 436 at p. 447 (“I do not think that Crown is entitled to refuse acceptance where its purpose in doing so to keep an issue alive artificially ...but if the accused is willing to make them, the Crown should not be allowed to gain entry for prejudicial evidence by refusing to accept the admissions.”)
  8. R v Handy, 2002 SCC 56 (CanLII), [2002] 2 SCR 908
    R v Clermont, 1986 CanLII 26 (SCC), [1986] 2 S. C. R. 131, at p. 136
    R v Bosley, 1992 CanLII 2838 (ON CA), (1992), 18 C. R. (4th) 347 (Ont. C. A.), at p. 360
    R v Proctor, 1992 CanLII 2763 (MB CA), (1992), 69 CCC (3d) 436 (Man. C. A.), at p. 447
  9. Principled Exception to Hearsay
  10. R v RAH, 2017 PECA 5 (CanLII), para at 51 citing Sopinka, Lederman and Bryan: The Law of Evidence in Canada, 4th Ed. (LexisNexis Canada Inc., at §19.2)
  11. RAH, supra at para 53
    Serra v Serra, 2009 ONCA 105 (CanLII)
  12. RAH, supra at para 53
    R v Baty, 1958 CanLII 93 (ONCA)
    Highly v. C.P.R., 1929 CanLII 410 (ON CA), [1930] 1 D.L.R. 630
  13. eg. RAH, supra at para 51 to 53


149 (1) A party to any proceedings under this Act may admit any relevant fact or matter for the purpose of dispensing with proof of it, including any fact or matter the admissibility of which depends on a ruling of law or of mixed law and fact.
Other party may adduce evidence
(2) Nothing in this section precludes a party to a proceeding from adducing evidence to prove a fact or matter admitted by another party.


See Also