2. Good Character Evidence: The Accused as a Witness

Author:David M. Paciocco - Lee Stuesser
Profession:Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice - Professor of Law, Bond University

Page 488

By way of exception, as an indulgence to the accused in a criminal case, the accused can prove his good character in a variety of ways. Such evidence is considered relevant both to the primarily material issue of whether the accused committed the offence charged and to the secondarily material issue of the credibility of the accused as a witness.5The methods for presenting such evidence on the issue of credibility are identical to those available where the good character evidence is being offered to cast doubt on the guilt of the accused.6In particular, the testifying accused can assert their own honesty, and other witnesses can be called to testify as to the reputation of the accused for truthfulness and veracity.7If the accused chooses to put their character in issue in either of these ways, the Crown will be entitled to rebut the claim to good character by cross-examining the accused or character witness, or by calling other witnesses who will testify to the accused’s bad reputation for trustworthiness or sincerity.

[5] R. v. H.(C.W.) (1991), 68 C.C.C. (3d) 146 (B.C.C.A.).

[6] See chapter 3, section 13, "Good Character Evidence and Modes of Presentation."

[7] R. v. Clarke (1998), 18 C.R. (5th) 219...

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