STATEMENT/CONFESSION DEFENCE LAWYER ONTARIO
Statement Lawyer Ottawa • Statement Lawyer Toronto • Confession Lawyer Ottawa • Confession Lawyer Toronto
What is a Statement or Confession
In a technical legal sense a "statement" or "confession" only refers to something said to "a person in authority" which can later be used at trial against the person who said it. Remarks made to third-parties might still amount to confessions, but don't face the same legal hurdles to admissibility at trial.
Why Challenge a Statement or Confession
There are lots of conditions that must be fulfilled for a statement or confession to be admissible at trial, due to fundamental right to legal counsel, the protection against self-incrimination, and requirements regarding voluntariness of statements.
Experience and studies have now proven that lots of people confess to things they never did given the correct psychological pressure. Confessions are for the most part not an especially reliable indicator of guilt unless there is significant corroborating evidence confirming them.
How to Challenge a Statement of Confession: Two Winning Trial Strategies
There are two principle means of challenging the admissibility of a statement or confession:
- by alleging a breach of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to counsel and protection against self-incrimination (the "I never got to call a lawyer" problem);
- by arguing that the statement was involuntary and thus should have no probative value, because:
- it wasn't the product of an operating mind;
- it was only elicited after extreme threats were made by a person in authority;
- it was only made after extreme promises were made by a person in authority;
- there are other public policy reasons to exclude it from evidence.
When to Challenge a Statement or Confession
The admissibility of statements is challenged at trial close to the time they are sought to be tendered into evidence through two means:
- a pre-trial Charter defence motion to exclude the statement if a violation of rights to counsel or to remain silent is being claimed;
- a voir dire held by the court at the request of the Crown to test voluntariness at the time the statement is presented. The voir dire operates as a sort of trial within a trial, facilitating the court to hear the statement and test its voluntariness without it falling into the general trial evidence prior to a ruling on voluntariness being made by the trial judge.