Canadian Criminal Evidence/Opinion/Lay Opinion Evidence

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to: navigation, search

General Principles[edit]

Lay opinion, being an opinion of a person who is not qualified as an expert, can be admissible in trial where the opinion constitutes a "compendious statement" of the observations of a witness in relation to matters of common experience where no special knowledge is required and the opinion is so close to fact that it is impossible to separate the two. [1] This is an exception to the rule that non-experts cannot give opinion evidence.

Lay opinion has been found to be valid in relation to the following:

  • the identification of handwriting, persons and things;[2]
  • apparent age;[3]
  • the bodily plight or condition of a person, including death and illness;[4]
  • the emotional state or state of mind of a person (e.g. distressed, angry, aggressive, affectionate or depressed, state of shock, fear, happiness); [5]
  • the condition of things—e.g. worn, shabby, used or new; [6]
  • certain questions of value;[7]
  • estimates of speed and distance;[8]
  • visual identification of persons in videos; [9]
  • visual identification of persons in pictures;[10]
  • visual identification of persons in court;[11]
  • visual identification of vehicles; [12]
  • audio identification; [13]
  • voice identification;[14]
  • identification of a shoe tread. [15]

A lay opinion that is formed formed from observations in close association and over a long period of time should be given considerable weight.[16]

See also: Ilina (2003), 172 CCC 240 (Man. CA)

  1. R. v. Graat, [1982] 2 SCR 819, 1982 CanLII 33 (SCC)
    R. v. Collins (2001), 160 CCC 85 (Ont. CA), 2001 CanLII 24124 (ON CA)
  2. See Graat
    CEA s. 8
    R. v. Pitre, [1933] SCR 69
    R. v. Abdi, (1997) 116 CCC 385 (ONCA)
  3. Graat
  4. Graat
  5. Graat
    See Watt’s Manual of Criminal Evidence (2012 ed), Toronto: Carswell: 2012, at p. 462
    R. v. Falkenberg, (1995), 95 C.C.C. (3d) 307, 165 A.R. 16 (Alta. C.A.) at para 7
  6. Graat, supra
  7. Graat, supra
  8. Graat, supra
  9. R. v. Leaney, [1989] 2 SCR 393; R. v. Nikolovski, [1996] 3 SCR 1197
  10. R. v. Ricards [1964] 2 CCC 19 (BCCA)
  11. R. v. Izzard (1990) 54 CCC 3d 252 (ONCA)
  12. R. v. Assoun (2006), 208 CCC 372
  13. R. v. Williams (1995), 98 CCC 160 (Ont.CA)
  14. R. v. Grabowski (1983) 8 CCCC 3d 78 (QCCA)
    R. v. Murray (1916) 27 CCC 247 (ABCA)
  15. R. v. Hill (1986), 32 CCC (Ont. CA)
  16. see Re: Price v. Spence, [1946] O.W.N. 80 at para. 17