Identification as Legal Defence
In every case, the judge or jury has to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that you are the person who committed the offence.
Even if there is no doubt that an offence was committed, the Crown may not be able to prove who did it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Further below you will find some examples of cases where we successfully defended our client using this defence.
Two common scenarios where the defence of identification would be raised are:
Scenario #1: There were no witnesses to the offence.
In this scenario, the Crown Attorney will usually need to rely entirely on circumstantial evidence to try and prove the identification of the offender since no one actually saw who did it. Examples of circumstantial evidence are:
- Your fingerprints obtained from the scene of the crime
- A victim’s blood found on your clothing
- Drugs, firearms or stolen property found in your home
- Evidence that stolen money was transferred into your bank account
- The licence plate to your car found at the scene of a hit and run accident
One successful defence strategy is to show that there may be innocent explanations for the circumstantial evidence relied on by the Crown Attorney. Remember, in order for you to be found guilty, a judge or jury has to be convinced of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When considering circumstantial evidence on the issue of identification, beyond a reasonable doubt means that the only reasonable conclusion that the judge or jury can come to based on the evidence is that you are the person who committed the offence.
Scenario #2: There was at least one witness to the alleged offence but the witness(es) did not personally know the offender.
In this scenario, the judge or jury would have to consider the witness’ ability to reliably identify the person they saw commit the offence. The courts have long recognized that there are weaknesses and dangers associated with identification evidence. These dangers and weaknesses exist because of factors like the following:
- The witness only had time for a momentary or fleeting glance of the offender
- The witness’ lack of prior dealings with the offender
- Poor lighting
- Poor eyesight
- The speed at which the events transpired
- Distractions faced by the witness at the time
- Stress the witness was under at the time
- Similarities between the appearance of the offender and other people
- An honest but mistaken witness will often sound convincing
Charged with a Criminal Offence? Get Every Defence.
Do not plead guilty without discussing your case with a lawyer. Many criminal offences have mandatory minimum sentences and a conviction will often result in a lengthy jail sentence. Being found guilty may result in negative employment, immigration and personal consequences to you and your family for years to come.