Introduction to Evidence

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This text was written as a reference on the law of evidence in criminal law. The audience for this text will be mostly criminal law practitioners, police officers, and law students, who need a convenient way to look up principles and case law. Where possible there are links to cited cases on CanLII for ease of reference.

As of this writing, this text remains a work in progress. Errors and omissions should be expected and so it is always recommended that source materials be consulted to confirm the contents of these materials.

Organization of the Section

This section is set out in three parts. First part covers the basic elements that make up the rules of evidence, such as basis for accepting evidence, burdens and standards of proof, as well as shortcuts to proof.

The second part cover the types of evidence the law recognizes. Specifically, oral, document or real evidence. These chapters cover the requirements for these types of evidence to be accepted into evidence, including competency of witnesses and authentication of certain types of evidence.

The final part covers the many rules that limit or exclude evidence. This includes a variety of principles from opinion evidence, character evidence, hearsay, admissions, and privilege.

The Law of Evidence

The law of evidence in Canada is not fixed nor it is enacted in a vacuum. It will "evolve with time".[1]

  1. R v Levogiannis, [1993] 4 SCR 475, 1993 CanLII 47 (SCC)