Expert Evidence in Psychology and Psychiatry

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General Principles

In one or more occasions, experts have been qualified to give opinion in several fields related to psychology and psychiatry:

  • effect of battered wife syndrome [1]
  • memory process in delayed recall[2]
  • memory loss[3]
  • inconsistencies and recantations of sexual abuse victims[4]
  • the general behavioural and psychological characteristics of child victims of sexual abuse[5]
  • "risk assessments and the measure of psychopathology and personality functioning and treatment for youth and adults."[6]
  • forensic psychology including automatism [7]
  • "clinical psychology and the administration and interpretation of psychological tests and risk assessment tools relative to criminal offenders"[8]
  • evidence as to the concept of ‘honour killings’ and its reality in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world[9]
  1. R v Bernardo, 2000 CanLII 5678 (ON CA)
    R v DSF, 1999 CanLII 3704 (ON CA), [1999] O.J. No. 688 (ONCA) - admitted for limited purpose of evaluating the complainant’s explanation as to why, following some of the alleged incidents of abuse, she did not immediately leave the relationship and accurately report the abuse
    c.f. R v Nelson [2001] O.J. No. 2354(*no CanLII links) - qualified but not permitted to speak on issues of trends of victims to lie about abuse
  2. R v O'Dell,2001 CanLII 8624 (ONCA)
    R v Tayebi, 2000 BCSC 819 (CanLII)
  3. R v Wald, 1989 ABCA 49 (CanLII)
  4. R v Talbot, 2002 CanLII 23584 (ON C.A.)
  5. see R v Olscamp, 1994 CanLII 7553 (ON SC)
    R v K,A, 1999 CanLII 3793 (ON CA)
    R v DED, 1994 CanLII 9263 (NS SC)
    see also R v GC, 1997 CanLII 12448 (ON SC) - rejected evidence
  6. R v Skeete, 2013 NSPC 3 (CanLII) at para 5 - qualifying a clinical psychologist
  7. R v Cameron, 2013 ONSC 1203 (CanLII)
  8. R v RFL, 2011 ONSC 1900 (CanLII) at para 171
  9. R v Sadiqi, 2009 CanLII 37350 (ON SC),


"Battered Wife" Syndrome
Psychological evidence of battered wife syndrome can be admitted for several purposes:[1]

  1. to assist the fact-finder in drawing inferences in areas where the expert has relevant knowledge or experience beyond that of the lay person.
  2. dispelling myths of the syndrome such as exaggeration, a masochistic desire for harm, or negative inferences from missed opportunities to leave.
  3. the limited ability of the victim to perceive dangers and form reasonable apprehension of death or bodily harm on a particular occasion;
  4. evidence pertaining to why an accused remained in the battering relationship as relevant in assessing the nature and extent of the alleged abuse;
  5. provide an explanation as to why an accused did not flee when she perceived her life to be in danger, expert testimony may also assist the jury in assessing the reasonableness of her belief that killing her batterer was the only way to save her own life.
  1. R v Lavallee, 1990 CanLII 95 (SCC), [1990] 1 SCR 852 at p. 889 to 890 R v Knott, 2014 MBQB 72 (CanLII), at paras 78 to 83

See Also