Corroboration

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General Principles

See also: Analyzing Testimony

There is no common law rule requiring corroboration in order to convict. A judge can reasonably find guilt based soley on the evidence a single witness.[1]

Where the testimony of a witness is uncontradicted, the trier-of-fact may rely on this in their assessment of credibility and reliability, however, need not accept the testimony as fact.[2]

For evidence to be corroborative it must be independent.[3] Independent evidence may be circumstantial even where it does not meet the Hodge's Rule.[4]

When considering the credibility of a complainant whose evidence may be subject to significant inconsistencies or contradictions, the judge need to look for corroboration implicating the accused. There should simply be evidence that is "capable of restoring the trier's faith in the complainant's account".[5]

There is no rule requiring that intoxicated complainants must be corroborated to be relied upon for conviction.[6]

Where credibility assessment requires confirmatory evidence of a crown witness, it need only be capable of affirming the trier-of-fact's faith in the complainant's account.[7]

Suspicious or tainted witnesses can corroborate each other's evidence as long as the Crown disproves collusion.[8]

Testimony that corroborates records, even those created by the accused, can be an admissible form of evidence.[9]

In analyzing credibility it is not necessary that there be corrobative evidence that specially implicates the accused, but it should have the effect of "restoring the trier’s faith in the witness’s testimony".[10]

Appeal
What constitutes corroboration is a question of law and is reviewable on a standard of correctness.[11] Whether corroboration is needed to establish a fact is also a question of law.[12]


  1. R v G.(A.), 2000 SCC 17 (CanLII), [2000] 1 SCR 439, at pp. 453-4
    R v Vetrovec, 1982 CanLII 20 (SCC), [1982] 1 SCR 811, at pp. 819-820
  2. R v Prokofiew, 2012 SCC 49 (CanLII) at para 11
  3. R v B. (G.), 1990 CanLII 113 (SCC), [1990] 2 SCR 3
    Warkentin v The Queen, 1976 CanLII 190 (SCC), [1977] 2 SCR 355
  4. e.g. see R v Demeter, 1975 CanLII 50 (ON CA)
    R v Boyce, 1975 CanLII 569 (ON CA)
  5. R v Wylie, 2012 ONSC 1077 (CanLII) at para 87
  6. R v A.W., 2008 NLCA 52 (CanLII)
  7. Kehler v The Queen, 2004 SCC 11 (CanLII), (2004), 181 CCC (3d) 1 (S.C.C.), at p. 5-6
    R v Betker, 1997 CanLII 1902 (ON CA), (1997), 115 CCC (3d) 421 (Ont. C.A.), at p. 429 (leave to appeal refused [1997] S.C.C.A. No. 461, [1998] 1 SCR vi)
    R v Michaud, 1996 CanLII 211 (SCC), [1996] 2 SCR 458, at p. 459
  8. R v Winmill 1999 CanLII 1353 (ON CA), (1999), 131 CCC (3d) 380 (Ont. C.A.), at p. 409
    R v Linklater, [2009] O.J. No. 771 (C.A.), at paras 11-12
    R v Delorme, [2010] N.W.T.J. No. 28 (C.A.), at paras 26-30
    R v Potvin, 1989 CanLII 130 (SCC), [1989] 1 SCR 525, at p. 554
    R v Naicker 2007 BCCA 608 (CanLII), (2008), 229 CCC (3d) 187 (BCCA), at para 34 (leave to appeal refused [2008] S.C.C.A. No 45)
    R v Korski, 2009 MBCA 37 (CanLII), (2009), 244 CCC (3d) 452 (Man. C.A.) at para 146
    R v G.(W.G.), 2002 CanLII 41634 (ON CA), (2002), 158 O.A.C. 305 (Ont. C.A.), at paras 3, 5
  9. See R v S. (D.D.), 2006 NSCA 34 (CanLII) at para 18
  10. R v M.C., 2014 ONCA 307 (CanLII) at para 43
  11. R v Parish, 1968 CanLII 120 (SCC), [1968] SCR 466
    R v Smith, 2009 ABCA 230
  12. R v Hubin, 1927 CanLII 79 (SCC), [1927] SCR 442
    R v Steele (1924), 42 CCC 375 (SCC)

Types of Corroboration

Types of corroboration include:

Where Corroboration is Required

When proving the following offence corroboration is required:

Prior versions of the Criminal Code required corroboration for several sexual offences. These have now been abolished by way of s. 274.

Whe Corroboration is Not Required

Corroboration not required
274. If an accused is charged with an offence under section 151, 152, 153, 153.1, 155, 159, 160, 170, 171, 172, 173, 271, 272, 273, 286.1, 286.2 or 286.3, no corroboration is required for a conviction and the judge shall not instruct the jury that it is unsafe to find the accused guilty in the absence of corroboration.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 274; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 11; 2002, c. 13, s. 12; 2014, c. 25, s. 16.


CCC

The offences list s. 274 consist of:

Similarly any rules requiring children's evidence to be corroborated has been abolished.

Children’s evidence
659. Any requirement whereby it is mandatory for a court to give the jury a warning about convicting an accused on the evidence of a child is abrogated.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 659; R.S., 1985, c. 19 (3rd Supp.), s. 15; 1993, c. 45, s. 9.


CCC

  1. s. 47(3) "No person shall be convicted of high treason or treason on the evidence of only one witness, unless the evidence of that witness is corroborated in a material particular by evidence that implicates the accused."
  2. 133 ("No person shall be convicted of an offence under section 132 on the evidence of only one witness unless the evidence of that witness is corroborated in a material particular by evidence that implicates the accused.")
  3. s. 292 ("No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section on the evidence of only one witness unless the evidence of that witness is corroborated in a material particular by evidence that implicates the accused.")

See Also