Every Accused charged with an offence may present evidence in their defence that another person committed that offence instead of them. An alternative suspect would be a co-accused or someone who is already involved in the case. Third-party suspects are people who have not come to the attention of the police, Crown Attorney or court. The evidence offered may be direct, circumstantial or a combination of both. Direct evidence might be that the Accused observed the alternate suspect or third party suspect commit the offence. An example of circumstantial evidence is that the alternate suspect or third party suspect has an extensive criminal record for committing the same kind of offence and/or had recently threaten to commit the offence. In order for the judge or jury to consider an alternative suspect or third party suspect defence the evidence must have an “air of reality” – this means it must be possible that the evidence is true.
Defence – Alternate Suspect – Third Party Suspect – Disposition or Propensity to Commit Offence