Spousal Immunity (Prior to July 23, 2015): Difference between revisions

From Criminal Law Notebook
Jump to navigation Jump to search
m (Text replacement - "(NS CA)" to "(NSCA)")
Tags: Mobile edit Mobile web edit
m (Text replacement - "\(3d\) ([0-9]+) \([^\)]+\)" to "(3d) $1")
 
(7 intermediate revisions by the same user not shown)
Line 9: Line 9:
Prior to the amendments, s. 4(2), (4), and (5) stated:
Prior to the amendments, s. 4(2), (4), and (5) stated:
{{quotation2|
{{quotation2|
4<br>...<br>
4<br>
{{removed|(1)}}
; Accused and spouse
; Accused and spouse
(2) The wife or husband of a person charged with an offence under subsection 136(1) of the ''Youth Criminal Justice Act'' or with an offence under any of sections 151, 152, 153, 155 or 159, subsection 160(2) or (3), or sections 170 to 173, 179, 215, 218, 271 to 273, 279.01 to 279.03, 280 to 283, 286.1 to 286.3, 291 to 294 or 329 of the Criminal Code, or an attempt to commit any such offence, is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution without the consent of the person charged.
(2) The wife or husband of a person charged with an offence under subsection 136(1) of the ''Youth Criminal Justice Act'' or with an offence under any of sections 151, 152, 153, 155 or 159, subsection 160(2) or (3), or sections 170 to 173, 179, 215, 218, 271 to 273, 279.01 to 279.03, 280 to 283, 286.1 to 286.3, 291 to 294 or 329 of the Criminal Code, or an attempt to commit any such offence, is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution without the consent of the person charged.
<br>...<br>
<br>
{{removed|(3)}}
; Offences against young persons
; Offences against young persons
(4) The wife or husband of a person charged with an offence against any of sections 220, 221, 235, 236, 237, 239, 240, 266, 267, 268 or 269 of the Criminal Code where the complainant or victim is under the age of fourteen years is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution without the consent of the person charged.
(4) The wife or husband of a person charged with an offence against any of sections 220, 221, 235, 236, 237, 239, 240, 266, 267, 268 or 269 of the Criminal Code where the complainant or victim is under the age of fourteen years is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution without the consent of the person charged.
Line 22: Line 24:
}}
}}
The ''Canada Evidence Act'' has added exceptions allowing the spouse to be competent and compellable for the Crown and co-accused:<ref>
The ''Canada Evidence Act'' has added exceptions allowing the spouse to be competent and compellable for the Crown and co-accused:<ref>
{{CanLIIR|Hawkins|1fr51|1996 CanLII 154 (SCC)}}{{perSCC|Lamer CJ and Iacobucci J}}</ref>
{{CanLIIRP|Hawkins|1fr51|1996 CanLII 154 (SCC)|[1996] 3 SCR 1043}}{{perSCC|Lamer CJ and Iacobucci J}}</ref>
# when called by the defence spouse ([http://www.canlii.ca/t/7vf5#sec4 s 4(1) CEA])
# when called by the defence spouse ([http://www.canlii.ca/t/7vf5#sec4 s 4(1) CEA])
# when the accused is charged with a listed offence which implicate the health and security of the spouse([http://www.canlii.ca/t/7vf5#sec4 s 4(2) CEA])
# when the accused is charged with a listed offence which implicate the health and security of the spouse([http://www.canlii.ca/t/7vf5#sec4 s 4(2) CEA])
Line 58: Line 60:


The section 4(5) exception preserves the common law rule.<ref>see {{CanLIIRP|MacPherson|gd524|1980 CanLII 2831 (NSCA)| (1980) 52 CCC (2d) 547 (NSCA)}}{{perNSCA|Macdonald JA}}<br>
The section 4(5) exception preserves the common law rule.<ref>see {{CanLIIRP|MacPherson|gd524|1980 CanLII 2831 (NSCA)| (1980) 52 CCC (2d) 547 (NSCA)}}{{perNSCA|Macdonald JA}}<br>
{{CanLIIRP|Czipps|g131b|1979 CanLII 2095 (ON CA)|, 48 CCC (2d) 166 (ONCA)}}{{perONCA|Morden JA}} (2:1)<br>
{{CanLIIRP|Czipps|g131b|1979 CanLII 2095 (ON CA)|48 CCC (2d) 166}}{{perONCA|Morden JA}} (2:1)<br>
{{CanLIIRP|Sillars|gbc6l|1978 CanLII 2433 (BC CA)| (1978) 45 CCC (2d) 283 (BCCA)}}{{perBCCA|Craig JA}}<br>
{{CanLIIRP|Sillars|gbc6l|1978 CanLII 2433 (BC CA)|45 CCC (2d) 283}}{{perBCCA|Craig JA}}<br>
</ref>
</ref>
It can be invoked even where the witness spouse is not the victim but their health or liberty is threatened.<ref>
It can be invoked even where the witness spouse is not the victim but their health or liberty is threatened.<ref>
{{CanLIIR|Schell|1h1fl|2004 ABCA 143 (CanLII)}}{{perABCA|Paperny JA}}</ref>
{{CanLIIRP|Schell|1h1fl|2004 ABCA 143 (CanLII)|188 CCC (3d) 254}}{{perABCA|Paperny JA}}</ref>


Thus, generally speaking spouse cannot testify on behalf of a co-accused or the crown. In civil trials, provincial evidence acts have removed these presumption, allowing spouses to testify in all circumstances.
Thus, generally speaking spouse cannot testify on behalf of a co-accused or the crown. In civil trials, provincial evidence acts have removed these presumption, allowing spouses to testify in all circumstances.


The immunity is concern with the state of the relationship at the time of the evidence being given, and not at the time of the incident.<ref>
The immunity is concern with the state of the relationship at the time of the evidence being given, and not at the time of the incident.<ref>
{{CanLIIRP|Lonsdale|fnwwl|1973 ALTASCAD 125 (CanLII)|, 15 CCC (2d) 201}}{{perABCA|Sinclair JA}} </ref>
{{CanLIIRP|Lonsdale|fnwwl|1973 ALTASCAD 125 (CanLII)|15 CCC (2d) 201}}{{perABCA|Sinclair JA}} </ref>


The protection is only only those in a "valid and subsisting" marriage.<ref>
The protection is only only those in a "valid and subsisting" marriage.<ref>
{{CanLIIR|Salituro|1fshg|1991 CanLII 17 (SCC)}}{{perSCC|Iacobucci J}}</ref>
{{CanLIIRP|Salituro|1fshg|1991 CanLII 17 (SCC)|[1991] 3 SCR 654}}{{perSCC|Iacobucci J}}</ref>
Thus, the spousal exception does not survive the marriage. "Irreconcilably separated" spouses are not protected where there is no marital harmony to preserve.  Thus, spouses with "no reasonable prospect of reconciliation" is exempt from spousal immunity. This is determined objectively and on the balance of probabilities.<ref>
Thus, the spousal exception does not survive the marriage. "Irreconcilably separated" spouses are not protected where there is no marital harmony to preserve.  Thus, spouses with "no reasonable prospect of reconciliation" is exempt from spousal immunity. This is determined objectively and on the balance of probabilities.<ref>
{{CanLIIRP|Jeffrey|2d9q3|1993 ABCA 245 (CanLII)|, 84 CCC (3d) 31 (ABCA)}}{{perABCA|Picard JA}}</ref>.  
{{CanLIIRP|Jeffrey|2d9q3|1993 ABCA 245 (CanLII)|84 CCC (3d) 31}}{{perABCA|Picard JA}}</ref>.  


A spouse refers only to legally married spouses.  
A spouse refers only to legally married spouses.  
Those who are:  
Those who are:  
# common law<ref>
# common law<ref>
{{CanLIIR|Martin|22rv8|2009 SKCA 37 (CanLII)}}{{perSKCA|Klebuc CJ}}<Br>
{{CanLIIRP|Martin|22rv8|2009 SKCA 37 (CanLII)|244 CCC (3d) 206}}{{perSKCA|Klebuc CJ}}<Br>
This rule was found constitutional at {{CanLIIRP|Thompson|2dbbg|1994 ABCA 178 (CanLII)| 90 CCC (3d) 519 (ABCA)}}{{perABCA|Harradence JA}}</ref>,  
This rule was found constitutional at {{CanLIIRP|Thompson|2dbbg|1994 ABCA 178 (CanLII)| 90 CCC (3d) 519}}{{perABCA|Harradence JA}}</ref>,  
#separated short of divorce with no hope of reconciliation,
#separated short of divorce with no hope of reconciliation,
# divorced <br>
# divorced <br>
Line 84: Line 86:


However, there is some authority suggesting that s. 4(1) and 4(3) must be read up to include common law partners anywhere there is reference to "husband" or "wife".<ref>
However, there is some authority suggesting that s. 4(1) and 4(3) must be read up to include common law partners anywhere there is reference to "husband" or "wife".<ref>
{{CanLIIR|Masterson|24j5n|2009 CanLII 36305 (ON SC)}}{{perONSC| Hennessy J}}
{{CanLIIRP|Masterson|24j5n|2009 CanLII 36305 (ON SC)|245 CCC (3d) 400}}{{perONSC| Hennessy J}}
</ref>
</ref>


A competent spouse for a party is necessarily a compellable witness.<ref>
A competent spouse for a party is necessarily a compellable witness.<ref>
{{CanLIIRP|McGuinty|1nppz|1986 CanLII 116 (YK CA)|, 27 CCC (3d) 36 (YTCA)}}, ''per'' Lambert JA<br>
{{CanLIIRP|McGuinty|1nppz|1986 CanLII 116 (YK CA)|27 CCC (3d) 36}}, ''per'' Lambert JA<br>
This however is not necessarily consistent with UK common law</ref>
This however is not necessarily consistent with UK common law</ref>


Even where the witness spouse is competent to testify, this does not necessarily always remove spousal privilege. <ref>
Even where the witness spouse is competent to testify, this does not necessarily always remove spousal privilege. <ref>
{{CanLIIRP|Zylsatra|6jk6|1995 CanLII 893 (ON CA)|, 99 CCC (3d) 477}}{{perONCA|Trotter JA}}</ref>  
{{CanLIIRP|Zylsatra|6jk6|1995 CanLII 893 (ON CA)|99 CCC (3d) 477}}{{perONCA|Trotter JA}}</ref>  
However, spousal privilege cannot apply where s. 4(2) is applied.<ref>
However, spousal privilege cannot apply where s. 4(2) is applied.<ref>
{{CanLIIRP|St. Jean|hv0zc|1976 CanLII 1344 (QC CA)| (1974) 32 CCC (2d) 438(QCCA)}}{{perQCCA|Kaufman JA}}</ref>
{{CanLIIRP|St. Jean|hv0zc|1976 CanLII 1344 (QC CA)| (1974) 32 CCC (2d) 438(QCCA)}}{{perQCCA|Kaufman JA}}</ref>


A wife who previously consented to a wiretap of conversations between her and her husband but then refuses to testify at trial may rely on spousal privilege s. 4(3) of the Evidence Act.<ref>
A wife who previously consented to a wiretap of conversations between her and her husband but then refuses to testify at trial may rely on spousal privilege s. 4(3) of the Evidence Act.<ref>
{{CanLIIRP|St. Denis|288pj|2010 ONSC 1225 (CanLII)|, }}{{perONSC|Gordon J}}
{{CanLIIRx|St. Denis|288pj|2010 ONSC 1225 (CanLII)}}{{perONSC|Gordon J}}
</ref>
</ref>


{{reflist|2}}
{{reflist|2}}

Latest revision as of 12:56, 9 September 2021

General Principles

See also: Spousal Immunity

On July 23, 2015, the Victims Bill of Rights came into force, amending the provisions of the Evidence Act on spousal privilege and immunity.[1]

Prior to the amendments, s. 4(2), (4), and (5) stated:

4
[omitted (1)]

Accused and spouse

(2) The wife or husband of a person charged with an offence under subsection 136(1) of the Youth Criminal Justice Act or with an offence under any of sections 151, 152, 153, 155 or 159, subsection 160(2) or (3), or sections 170 to 173, 179, 215, 218, 271 to 273, 279.01 to 279.03, 280 to 283, 286.1 to 286.3, 291 to 294 or 329 of the Criminal Code, or an attempt to commit any such offence, is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution without the consent of the person charged.
[omitted (3)]

Offences against young persons

(4) The wife or husband of a person charged with an offence against any of sections 220, 221, 235, 236, 237, 239, 240, 266, 267, 268 or 269 of the Criminal Code where the complainant or victim is under the age of fourteen years is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution without the consent of the person charged.

Saving

(5) Nothing in this section affects a case where the wife or husband of a person charged with an offence may at common law be called as a witness without the consent of that person.

CEA


Note up: 4(2), (4) and (5)

The Canada Evidence Act has added exceptions allowing the spouse to be competent and compellable for the Crown and co-accused:[2]

  1. when called by the defence spouse (s 4(1) CEA)
  2. when the accused is charged with a listed offence which implicate the health and security of the spouse(s 4(2) CEA)
  3. when the accused is charged with a listed offence and the victim is under the age of 14 (s 4(4) CEA)
  4. the accused is charged with an offence involving danger to the spouse's "person, liberty, or health", b) when the accused threatened to the spouse's "person, liberty, or health", or c) violence, cruelty or threats are made against the spouse's child. (s 4(5) and the common law)

Offences listed under s. 4(2) consist of:

The section 4(5) exception preserves the common law rule.[3] It can be invoked even where the witness spouse is not the victim but their health or liberty is threatened.[4]

Thus, generally speaking spouse cannot testify on behalf of a co-accused or the crown. In civil trials, provincial evidence acts have removed these presumption, allowing spouses to testify in all circumstances.

The immunity is concern with the state of the relationship at the time of the evidence being given, and not at the time of the incident.[5]

The protection is only only those in a "valid and subsisting" marriage.[6] Thus, the spousal exception does not survive the marriage. "Irreconcilably separated" spouses are not protected where there is no marital harmony to preserve. Thus, spouses with "no reasonable prospect of reconciliation" is exempt from spousal immunity. This is determined objectively and on the balance of probabilities.[7].

A spouse refers only to legally married spouses. Those who are:

  1. common law[8],
  2. separated short of divorce with no hope of reconciliation,
  3. divorced

are not subject to the spousal immunity.

However, there is some authority suggesting that s. 4(1) and 4(3) must be read up to include common law partners anywhere there is reference to "husband" or "wife".[9]

A competent spouse for a party is necessarily a compellable witness.[10]

Even where the witness spouse is competent to testify, this does not necessarily always remove spousal privilege. [11] However, spousal privilege cannot apply where s. 4(2) is applied.[12]

A wife who previously consented to a wiretap of conversations between her and her husband but then refuses to testify at trial may rely on spousal privilege s. 4(3) of the Evidence Act.[13]

  1. see http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1006529
  2. R v Hawkins, 1996 CanLII 154 (SCC), [1996] 3 SCR 1043, per Lamer CJ and Iacobucci J
  3. see R v MacPherson, 1980 CanLII 2831 (NSCA), (1980) 52 CCC (2d) 547 (NSCA), per Macdonald JA
    R v Czipps, 1979 CanLII 2095 (ON CA), 48 CCC (2d) 166, per Morden JA (2:1)
    R v Sillars, 1978 CanLII 2433 (BC CA), 45 CCC (2d) 283, per Craig JA
  4. R v Schell, 2004 ABCA 143 (CanLII), 188 CCC (3d) 254, per Paperny JA
  5. R v Lonsdale, 1973 ALTASCAD 125 (CanLII), 15 CCC (2d) 201, per Sinclair JA
  6. R v Salituro, 1991 CanLII 17 (SCC), [1991] 3 SCR 654, per Iacobucci J
  7. R v Jeffrey, 1993 ABCA 245 (CanLII), 84 CCC (3d) 31, per Picard JA
  8. R v Martin, 2009 SKCA 37 (CanLII), 244 CCC (3d) 206, per Klebuc CJ
    This rule was found constitutional at R v Thompson, 1994 ABCA 178 (CanLII), 90 CCC (3d) 519, per Harradence JA
  9. R v Masterson, 2009 CanLII 36305 (ON SC), 245 CCC (3d) 400, per Hennessy J
  10. R v McGuinty, 1986 CanLII 116 (YK CA), 27 CCC (3d) 36, per Lambert JA
    This however is not necessarily consistent with UK common law
  11. R v Zylsatra, 1995 CanLII 893 (ON CA), 99 CCC (3d) 477, per Trotter JA
  12. R v St. Jean, 1976 CanLII 1344 (QC CA), (1974) 32 CCC (2d) 438(QCCA), per Kaufman JA
  13. R v St. Denis, 2010 ONSC 1225 (CanLII), per Gordon J