section 658(3)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This section allows birth or baptismal certificates and records from organizations to be used as evidence of a persons age in criminal proceedings.

SECTION WORDING

658(3) In any proceedings to which this Act applies, (a) a birth or baptismal certificate or a copy of such a certificate purporting to be certified under the hand of the person in whose custody the certificate is held is evidence of the age of that person; and (b) an entry or record of an incorporated society or its officers who have had the control or care of a child or young person at or about the time the child or young person was brought to Canada is evidence of the age of the child or young person if the entry or record was made before the time when the offence is alleged to have been committed.

EXPLANATION

Section 658(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides important provisions for criminal proceedings that use a birth or baptismal certificate or an entry or record of an incorporated society for the purposes of identifying the age of a person. Subsection (a) of this section indicates that a birth or baptismal certificate, or a certified copy of such a certificate, that is held by the person in whose custody is evidence of their age for any proceedings under the Criminal Code. This means that if a person is accused of a crime in which their age is a factor, such as in cases of statutory rape or youth crimes, their birth or baptismal certificate can be used as evidence of their age. This provision ensures that the court has a reliable source to determine the age of a person rather than just relying on their appearance, behavior, or statements. Similarly, Subsection (b) states that any entry or record made before the time when the offense was committed, by a society or its officers who had control or care of a child or young person when they were brought to Canada, is admissible as evidence of the age of the child or young person. This provision recognizes that not all individuals have birth or baptismal certificates, and in some cases, may be moved to Canada without any documentation. Therefore, any record made by a society or institution responsible for their care at or about the time they arrived in Canada can serve as evidence of their age if required. The purpose of Section 658(3) is to ensure that the trial proceedings are fair and reliable by providing an accurate proof of an individual's age through their birth, baptismal certificates or government records. This means that the prosecutor can present documents as credible and reliable evidence to prove an individual's age, and the court, in turn, can take appropriate actions based on these proofs. This provision reflects the function of evidence to establish an individual's age as a significant component for determining an outcome of a criminal trial.

COMMENTARY

Section 658(3) of the Canadian Criminal Code has significant implications in cases involving children and young people. The section outlines two types of documents that may be used as evidence of a person's age in criminal proceedings: birth or baptismal certificates, and entries or records of an incorporated society or its officers. In the case of birth or baptismal certificates, the section specifies that a copy of the certificate that is certified under the hand of the person in whose custody the certificate is held is admissible as evidence of the person's age. This provision is significant because it acknowledges the importance of age in such proceedings. In cases involving minors, for instance, age may be particularly relevant, as it can determine whether a minor is charged as a youth or an adult, and it may also impact the severity of any sentence or penalty that is imposed. Similarly, the provision for the use of entries or records of an incorporated society or its officers recognizes that organizations may keep records of the age of children or young people who have come into their care. These records may be particularly significant in cases where the child or young person has been brought to Canada without their parents or guardians. In such cases, the child or young person's age may be uncertain, and records held by an organization they were associated with may be the only reliable source of information. Importantly, the provision specifies that the entry or record must have been made before the alleged offence was committed. This requirement is intended to ensure that the evidence presented is accurate and reliable, and it underscores the principle that the accuracy of evidence is central to ensuring that a fair and just trial takes place. Overall, Section 658(3) of the Canadian Criminal Code reflects legislative recognition of the importance of accurate evidence in criminal proceedings and acknowledges that age may be particularly important in cases involving minors or young people. The section provides clear criteria for the types of documents that may be used as evidence of age, and the requirement that such records must have been made before the alleged offence was committed underscores the importance of accuracy and reliability in any evidence presented in a criminal trial.

STRATEGY

When dealing with section 658(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada, there are several strategic considerations that should be taken into account. These strategic considerations include the reliability of the evidence, the potential challenges to the evidence, and the potential role of expert testimony. One key strategic consideration when dealing with section 658(3) is the reliability of the evidence. Birth or baptismal certificates and records of incorporated societies can be valuable sources of evidence, but they are not always reliable. For example, birth certificates may contain errors or be altered, and records of incorporated societies may be incomplete or inaccurate. It is important to thoroughly review and assess the reliability of the evidence before using it in court. This may involve conducting independent research, consulting with experts, and cross-examining witnesses. Another strategic consideration when dealing with section 658(3) is the potential challenges to the evidence. The reliability of birth or baptismal certificates and records of incorporated societies can be challenged by the opposing counsel. This may involve questioning the authenticity of the evidence, the accuracy of the information contained in the evidence, or the relevance of the evidence to the case. It is important to be prepared for potential challenges and to have a strategy in place to address them. This may involve preparing witness testimony, conducting additional research, or presenting alternative evidence. Expert testimony can also play a valuable role when dealing with section 658(3). For example, an expert in forensic document analysis may be able to provide an opinion on the authenticity and reliability of a birth or baptismal certificate. An expert in historical research may be able to provide context for a record of an incorporated society and help establish its relevance to the case. Expert testimony can help bolster the reliability of the evidence and address challenges from the opposing counsel. When dealing with section 658(3), it is also important to consider the potential impact on the broader case strategy. For example, the use of birth or baptismal certificates or records of incorporated societies may provide important evidence of the age of a defendant or victim, which could impact the severity of the charges and potential sentencing. This may also impact the burden of proof or the standards of evidence required to establish guilt. In terms of specific strategies that could be employed when dealing with section 658(3), these may include conducting thorough research and investigation to assess the reliability and relevance of the evidence, consulting with experts to bolster the strength of the evidence, and preparing strategies to address potential challenges from the opposing counsel. It may also involve presenting additional evidence to support or supplement the reliability of the evidence presented under section 658(3). Overall, when dealing with section 658(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada, it is important to take a strategic and thoughtful approach, weighing the relevance and reliability of the evidence and anticipating potential challenges from the opposing counsel. By employing these strategies, legal professionals can help ensure the best possible outcome for their clients.