Corroboration in Criminal Proceedings

Our Canadian law does not require corroboration of the evidence of a complainant in order to found a conviction. The sworn testimony of a complainant, standing alone, is sufficient to establish a charge beyond a reasonable doubt, provided that the testimony is found to be credible and reliable. Because the reasonable doubt standard is an onerous one, triers of fact will frequently look for corroboration where guilt or innocence hinges on the testimony of  a single witness. Such evidence is often helpful, but is not a requirement.

While corroboration is not mandatory , in cases where there are problems with the credibility of a principal witness, it is often useful to consider whether there is any independent evidence to corroborate the testimony of that witness. It is not necessary that such corroborative evidence go to the heart of the matter at issue, rather any evidence that confirms a material or relevant aspect of the witness’s testimony may be used to support his or her overall credibility.

William Poulos, Barrister

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