Canadian Criminal Evidence/Opinion/Expert Evidence/Examples of Qualification

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Example Areas of Qualification[edit]

Drugs[edit]

  • relationship between couriers, overseers and contact persons in drug importation[1]
  • how drug traffickers work [2]
  • drug trafficking transactions [3]
  • intention to traffick [4]
  • pricing and jargon [5]
  • monetary value of hash and heroin [6]
  • impairment by drug recognition expert evidence[7]
  • the how marijuana is grown, the stages of growth, activities surrounding a grow operation, the effect of moisture on the plants during harvest (Somerville v. R., 2012 NBCA 23 (CanLII))
  • significance of short notice bookings and cash payments as indicators of drug importation schemes. (R v Lewis 2012 ONCA 388 (CanLII))
  • "the production, manner of use, packaging, distribution, prices, consumption patterns, paraphernalia, jargon, practices and habits of users, practices and habits of traffickers, and the observable effects of cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy." [8]
  • "drug trafficking, drug hierarchies, the meaning of coded language, and police anti-detection techniques"[9]
  1. R. v. Hui 1988, OntCA
  2. R. v. Joyal (1990) Que CA
  3. R. v. Ballony-Reeder, 2001 BCCA 293
  4. R. v. Bryan, 2003 CanLII 24337 (ON C.A.)
  5. R. v. Fougere, 1988 NBCA, Somerville v. R., 2012 NBCA 23 (CanLII)
  6. R. v. Mohammadi, 2006 QCCA 930
  7. c.f. R. v. Thomas, 2012 BCPC 215
  8. R. v. Qureshi, 2011 ABPC 92 (CanLII) at para. 22
  9. R. v. Dritsas, 2012 MBQB 339 (CanLII)

Gangs[edit]

Experts have been qualified in several issues related to gangs:

  • workings of a motorcycle gangs [1]
  • meaning of tear-drop tattoo in street gang [2]
  • nature and characteristics of the Hells Angels organization; the main purposes and activities of the Hells Angels organization and whether they constitute the facilitation or commission of serious criminal offences that afford a material benefit to its members.[3]
  1. R. v. Duguay, 2009 QCCA 1130
    R v Alcantara, 2012 ABQB 225 - qualified to testify to a number of details on the Hells Angels MC
  2. R. v. Abbey, 2009 ONCA 624
  3. R. v. Lindsay, 2004 CanLII 34074 (ON SC)

Firearms[edit]

  • "evidence on the subject of the forensic analysis of firearms and ammunitions, including firearm identification, the identification of fired ammunition components as well as ballistics and toolmark identification"[1]
  1. R. v. Abdow, 2011 ABQB 129 (CanLII) at para. 179

Injuries[edit]

  • "qualified as a duly qualified general medical practitioner, licensed to practice medicine in [the province], and qualified to give opinion evidence on the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of human beings"[1]
  1. R. v. Hutchinson, 2011 NSSC 361 (CanLII) at para. 19


DNA Analysis[edit]

  • "identification of bodily fluids and the forensic aspects of DNA typing."[1]
  1. R. v. Lafferty, 1993 CanLII 3409 (NWT SC) - also includes detailed summary of analysis process

Psychology and Psychiatry[edit]

Experts have been qualified in several issues related to psychology and psychiatry:

  • effect of battered wife syndrome [1]
  • memory process in delayed recall[2]
  • inconsistencies and recantations of sexual abuse victims[3]
  • "the behaviour and psychological characteristics or symptoms exhibited by child victims of sexual abuse."[4]
  • "risk assessments and the measure of psychopathology and personality functioning and treatment for youth and adults."[5]


  1. R v. Berardo, 2000 Ont CA
    c.f. R. v. Nelson [2001] O.J. No. 2354 - qualified but not permitted to speak on issues of trends of victims to lie about abuse
  2. R. v. O'Dell,2001 CanLII 8624 (ONCA)
    R. v. Tayebi, 2000 BCSC 819
  3. R. v. Talbot, 2002 CanLII 23584 (ON C.A.)
  4. R. v. D.E.D., 1994 CanLII 9263 (NS SC)
    see also R. v. G.C., 1997 CanLII 12448 (ON SC) - rejected evidence
  5. R. v. Skeete, 2013 NSPC 3 at para. 5 - qualifying a clinical psychologist

Dog Tracking[edit]

Before a judge should consider expert evidence of a specific tracking by a particular dog, the court there must be enough evidence establishing:[1]

  • the reliability of the dog breed; and
  • the reliability of the specific dog.

The court should be satisfied with the evidence of the following regarding the dog:[2]

  • dog's training
  • success rates
  • susceptibility to distractions, such as irrelevant scents, cats or other dogs.

The handler is expected to give sufficient detail on "the process, sequence and outcome of the tracking, preferably supported by contemporaneously or near contemporaneously compiled notes." [3]

The trial judge should always give a warning to a jury that "such evidence should be evaluated in terms of the facts of the particular case, and that it falls into the category of evidence in respect of which special care needs to be exercised because the source of the evidence, the dog, is not able to be made subject to the usual check and balance of the court system - cross-examination."[4]

Cases where dogs have been qualified:

  • R. v. Sherman, [1997] B.C.J. No. 2472; R. v. Rackley, 1996 Ont; R. v. Klymchuk, 2000 Ont; R. v. Nguyen, 1999 BCCA
  1. R. v. Holmes, 2002 CanLII 45114 (ON CA) at para. 37
  2. Holmes at para. 37
  3. Holmes at para. 37
  4. Holmes at para. 37

Computer-related Forensics[edit]

  • area of computer forensics involving the identification, extraction, preservation, and interpretation of storage and recovery of data from electronic media[1]
  • child exploitation investigations in relation to peer to peer file sharing networks[2]
  • peer to peer file sharing programs including GigaTribe, Limewire, Shareaza, etc.[3]
  1. R. v. Wainwright, 2012 BCPC 123 at para 69
    R. v. Pelich, 2012 ONSC 3611 at para 29
  2. R. v. Pelich, 2012 ONSC 3224, R v SDP, 2012 SKQB 330 (CanLII)
  3. R v SDP, 2012 SKQB 330

Forensic Pathology[edit]

  • "opinion evidence in that field including expressing an opinion as to the causes of the injuries suffered by the deceased and the causes and times of their deaths"[1]
  1. R. v. Despres, 2008 NBQB 99 (CanLII)at para. 13

Blood Stains[edit]

  • "field of forensic blood stain pattern analysis and to interpret the physical events that give rise to the shape, location, size and distribution of blood stains"[1] of a "crime scene in order to interpret the physical events that gave rise to its origins."[2]
  1. R. v. Hawkins, 2011 NSCA 6 (CanLII) at para. 27
  2. R. v. Despres, 2008 NBQB 99 (CanLII)

Fingerprints[edit]

  • "comparison, identification and analysis of fingerprints, which indicates the examination of scenes of crime for latent fingerprints, the use of Automated Fingerprint Identification System (A.F.I.S.) and the search and comparison of fingerprint files in order to establish identity"[1]
  1. R. v. Qureshi, 2011 ABPC 92 (CanLII) at para. 30

Arson-related Forensics[edit]

  • "determination of origin, cause and circumstances of the fire"[1]
  • "determining the cause and origin of a ... fire, in understanding burn patterns, the location of the "seat" of a fire, and its movement during the course of a burn" [2]
  1. R. v. Fournel, 2012 ONSC 375 (CanLII), see also R. v. Alpine, 2008 BCPC 508, R. v. O'Brien, 2002 YKTC 45
    R v Jonkman, 2012 SKQB 511 (CanLII) "expert in fire investigation, cause and origin"
  2. R. v. Payette, 2010 MBQB 73 (CanLII)

Other Sciences[edit]

  • "facial mapping"[1]
  • "ear print" identification[2]
  • Crime scene analysis including staging [3]
  • identification based on gait of walk.[4]
  • handwriting evidence permitted despite experts inconclusive evidence[5]
  • forgery
  • Serology (study of fluids, including blood, saliva, sweat, semen, vagina fluids)
  • Blood stains and splatters
  • Forensic toxicology
  • Forensic entomology
  1. R. v. Clarke , [1995] 2 Cr. App. R. 425 (C.A.)
  2. R. v. Dallagher , [2003] 1 Cr. App. R. 195
  3. R. v. Clark, 2004 CanLII 12038 (ON CA)
  4. R. v. Aitken, 2012 BCCA 134 at 63
  5. R. v. Garniss, 2011 ONSC 6559

Failed Qualifications[edit]

Similar issues have been disqualified:

  • Footprint analysis (R. v. Dimitrov, 2003 CanLII 50104 (ON C.A.) [1]; See also R. v. T. [2010] EWCA Crim 2439[2] for consideration on utility of analysis)
  • A police officer was refused qualification as an expert is risk assessment of an offender in a sentencing hearing. R. v. Shehaib, 2012 ONCJ 144
  • profiling of a sexual abuse victim: R v Olscamp 1994 CanLII 7553 (ON SC)
  • expert on evidence suggesting "staging" of a crime to divert attention[1]
  1. R. v. Stobbe, 2012 MBQB 78