What needs to be proven before I can get convicted of an offence?
In order for someone to be convicted of a criminal offence in Canada, the Crown prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of both the actus reus and mens rea of the alleged offence.
The actus reus of an offence refers to the actual criminal action, while the mens rea refers to the intent to commit the criminal act. For example, in a case of murder, the actus reus would be made out if the Crown Prosecutor can prove that the accused took the physical actions that led to the victim’s death. The mens rea will be made out if the Crown can show that the accused person meant to kill the victim. For most offences, both the actus reus and mens rea must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, there are special types of offences called strict liability and absolute liability offences that do not have a mens rea element. These types of offences are typically regulatory offences that relate to the protection of the environment, public health, or highway traffic. With these offences, all that the Crown Prosecutor needs to do in order to secure a conviction is prove that you are guilty of the actus reus of the offence, or the actual criminal act. Whether or not you meant to do it will have no bearing on the proceedings.
No matter the offence, the Crown Prosecutor must prove that the accused is guilty of the essential elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The legal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt must be met before guilt can be found in any criminal case. This standard does not require absolute certainty that the accused is guilty of the crime, but it does require more than a reasonable probability (50% + 1) that the accused is guilty. In any case where there is good reason to doubt that the accused is guilty, the accused must be acquitted.
You can be convicted of an offence on circumstantial evidence alone!
Contrary to what some people mistakenly believe, it is possible to be found guilty of an offence where the evidence against you is purely circumstantial.
To clarify, direct evidence is evidence that clearly implicates you in the crime without the need to make additional inferences. For example, a video recording of you stealing property would be direct evidence of your guilt of theft. By contrast, circumstantial evidence is evidence that requires an inference to be made before leading to the conclusion that you are implicated in a crime. For example, is the police find a knife that was used to stab someone with the victim’s blood and your fingerprints on it, the knife and your prints can serve as circumstantial evidence of your guilt of murder. While there might not be anything that clearly shows you committing the crime, there is some evidence (your prints) tying you to the weapon and to the crime. Where there is a substantial amount of compelling circumstantial evidence pointing to your guilt, you can be convicted of the crime.
However, in order to make a compelling case against you on the basis of purely circumstantial evidence the Crown Prosecutor must meet a high legal burden. In particular, he or she will need to demonstrate that the circumstantial evidence against you has no other rational explanation than that you are the person guilty of the offence.
If you have been charged with a crime contact one of our criminal defence lawyers immediately, even if the evidence against you is only circumstantial. We can closely review your disclosure and use legal arguments founded in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and rules of evidence to prevent incriminating evidence from being presented against you at trial.
About The Author
Ask A Question
We endeavor to respond to questions within 24 hours. If your matter is urgent, please call our office or submit a request for a free consultation.
Michael Oykhman is a very professional lawyer and the first time I spoke to him he asked about my situation and he gave me some very helpful advice and assistance and also told me his odds of winning this case. During the days I was in contact with micheal I could feel the level of professionalism of him and his team, he is able to respond back to you with any questions you have within 24 hours. In the end he was as successful in helping me win my case as he had initially promised me.If you are still struggling to find a lawyer, I highly recommend Michael Oykhman.
Please give yourself a favour and contact Mr. Michael Oykhman if you need any legal advice or if you are in a terrible situation. Even-tough, the odds are not in your favour, still they will go extra miles to help you out in bad situation and get you favourable outcome. Moreover, They will work on your file even after the business hours. I don’t have words to say thanks to Mr. Michael oykhman and Kiran Cheema who had worked on my file and get me out of trouble. I’m very grateful for your assistance and exceptional service. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I am grateful that Ms. Moira McAvoy was my lawyer, and I remain thankful to her for everything. She made a successful resolution to my case possible. Ms. Moira McAvoy is a professional, trustworthy lawyer, and a compassionate person. She is an excellent listener and knowledgeable of the law. From the start, she was an excellent guide. I did not know anything about the legal system and court, and she outlined everything clearly in advance, so I could understand things. She never rushed me through anything. She spoke clearly, explained everything, considered what I said, and provided options and advice. She kept me up to date on new information, requirements, and deadlines. She was always positive and this helped so much.
Ryan Patmore and his team are simply the best. I was bullied by CPS in 2020 and it landed me with three separate charges, assault, refusal to blow and DUI, which all went down as I was parked at a friends. After some research and a conversation with Michael, he directed me towards Ryan and at the time I didn’t know that would be a game changer in my favour! He is honest, transparent, helpful and a brilliant mind. He successfully appealed my license suspension with ATSB and then proceeded to get the crown to dismiss all my charges before trial. I never had to step foot inside a courtroom. If you are in need of a criminal defence lawyer, don’t think twice, get in touch with this firm and ask for Ryan Patmore! The guy is an absolute saviour.
Joseph Beller, from the very beginning when I first contacted and then retained Joseph as my representative I felt I was in good hands. When I emailed him with a question. I got a prompt response. We communicated often on the phone as needed. Joseph kept me informed as to the process. He made sure I knew all the potential results so I knew and could plan for the different outcomes. I know this his his job. But appreciate his professionalism and also his ability to not make me feel any extra stress. Well done.