Suspect evidence

Information

Some types of evidence are admissible but are "suspect". This means that they often turn out to be untrue or incorrect.

To protect the accused against being convicted on the basis of suspect evidence, safeguards have been put in place. The most important safeguard against suspect evidence is the "corroboration warning".

Rules

Corroboration warning

The corroboration warning is given at the end of the trial by the judge to the jury. The warning points out to the jury that it is dangerous to convict the accused on the basis of the suspect evidence without any corroborative evidence. However, if the jury is satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty, then it can go on and convict even without corroborative evidence.

Corroborative evidence

Corroborative evidence is additional evidence. It is evidence in a case which:

  • Implicates the accused in the crime - it must tend to show that the accused was guilty of the offence charged
  • Is admissible and credible
  • Is independent - it comes from a source other than the witness whose evidence needs corroboration.

Accomplice evidence

An accomplice is a person who was also involved in the alleged crime. If an accomplice is giving evidence against the accused, the court will treat it as "suspect evidence". This is because an accomplice may have a lot to gain by lying to pin the blame on the accused.

To protect the accused against being unfairly convicted on the basis of accomplice evidence alone, the judge, at the end of the trial, will sum up the case and must give a corroboration warning to the jury.

Confession evidence

A confession is a voluntary statement made by the accused implicating him/her in the alleged offence. Confession evidence is considered to be "suspect evidence" and since 1993, the judge must give a corroboration warning to the jury.

Evidence given by the alleged victim of a sexual offence

Traditionally, the evidence of an alleged victim of a sexual offence was treated as "suspect" and the judge in such a case was obliged to give a corroboration warning to the jury.

However, since 1990, the corroboration warning is no longer automatic and it is up to the judge to decide whether the warning is necessary in the particular case.

Children's evidence

Traditionally, children's evidence was treated as "suspect" and the judge in such a case was obliged to give a corroboration warning to the jury.

However, since 1992, the corroboration warning is no longer automatic and it is up to the judge to decide whether the warning is necessary in the particular case.

Further information

For more detailed information you should seek legal advice.

Page edited: 6 January 2014