Using the statements of co-accused
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Under current Canadian law if co-offenders are tried together the statement of one accused is only admissible against its maker and is not evidence against any other accused. However, should the Crown proceed against the accused separately then the out-of-court statement of the "co-accused" witness may well become admissible against the other accused using the principled approach to the admissibility of hearsay. The Crown is able to do indirectly what they cannot do directly. The following article questions this disparity in the law. What is advocated is a consistent approach to all co-accused statements. This would require that all co-accused statements be rigorously examined and only be admitted when the Crown can prove their reliability beyond a reasonable doubt. Once a statement is found reliable on this threshold then it is admissible in evidence for its truth against all, whether in a joint or separate trial.
This document has been peer reviewed.