Canadian Criminal Evidence/Admissions of Fact

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General Principles[edit]

Factual admissions are made under section 655.

Admissions at trial
655. Where an accused is on trial for an indictable offence, he or his counsel may admit any fact alleged against him for the purpose of dispensing with proof thereof.


Though the language refers to indictable offences, it is accepted that this applies to summary convictions as well under s. 795.

When a factual admission is made pursuant to s. 655 it is for the Crown to state the facts. It is not open to the accused to frame the Crown's allegations so as to conform to his own purpose and then insist on the Crown admitting. [1]

Formal admissions cannot be made until there has been an allegation put against them. [2]

A factual admission can be made by counsel in court. Counsel can state for example that: “I admit that the accused did X. I admit that when he did that act, he knew Y. I admit that at that time, the accused thought or intended Z.”

This form of admission is “proper and sufficient” for findings of fact by the court under s. 655 and remove the need to adduce evidence on those issues. [3]

If the accused makes an admission of fact, the Crown should not be allowed to refuse to accept it and then lead evidence on the issue. Once admitted, it is no long an admission at trial.[4]

Similarly, if the Crown and Defence put forward evidence by submission that constitutes an agreed statement of facts, then it should be accepted by the trial judge as “conclusive of the admitted facts".[5]

An agreed statement of fact should be "clear, unambiguous, precise and unequivocal before acceptance by the court".[6]

  1. R. v. Castellani, [1970] SCR 910 [1] at p.315; Dearborn 1991
  2. R v Castellani, [1970] SCR 910
  3. R. v. Miljevic, 2010 ABCA 115 at 18
    See also McWilliams’ Canadian Criminal Evidence pp. 22-2 to 22-5, 22-9 to 22-11 (4th ed. 2009); 9 Wigmore, Evidence in Trials at Common Law 822-24 (Chadbourne ed. 1981)
    R. v. Haimour, 2010 ABQB 7 (CanLII), 2010 ABQB 7 at para. 27
    R. v. Picariello [1923] 2 D.L.R. 706, 716 (S.C.C.)
    R. v. Castellani 1969 CanLII 57 (SCC), [1970] S.C.R. 310 at 315-17
    R. v. Park 1981 CanLII 56 (SCC), [1981] 2 S.C.R. 64 at 73
    R. v. Matheson1981 CanLII 202 (SCC), [1981] 2 S.C.R. 214 at 217
    R. v. Fertal (1993) 145 A.R. 225 at paras. 7-9 (C.A.)
    R. v. Proctor1992 CanLII 2763 (MB CA), (1992) 5 Man. R. (2d) 217, 69 C.C.C. (3d) 436, 447 (C.A.)
    R. v. MacDonald, supra (paras. 32-33)
    R. v. Fong1994 ABCA 267 (CanLII), (1994) 157 A.R. 73 (C.A.) at paras. 6-8
    R. v. Desjardins (1998) 110 B.C.A.C. 33 at para. 18
  4. R v Proctor, 1992 CanLII 2763 (MB CA), (1992) 69 C.C.C. (3d) 436 at p. 447 (“I do not think that Crown is entitled to refuse acceptance where its purpose in doing so to keep an issue alive artificially ...but if the accused is willing to make them, the Crown should not be allowed to gain entry for prejudicial evidence by refusing to accept the admissions.”)
  5. R. v. Baksh 2005 CanLII 24918, (2005), 199 C.C.C. (3d) 201 (Ont. S.C.J.)
  6. R. v. Asp, 2011 BCCA 433 (CanLII) at para. 40

See Also[edit]