section 659


This section abolishes the mandatory requirement of the court to give a warning to the jury about convicting an accused on the basis of a childs evidence.


659 Any requirement whereby it is mandatory for a court to give the jury a warning about convicting an accused on the evidence of a child is abrogated.


Section 659 of the Criminal Code of Canada pertains to the legal policy of giving a warning to the jury about convicting an accused based on the evidence of a child. This section eliminates the mandatory requirement for the court to provide a warning. In the past, courts have been required to provide a warning to juries when a child testifies as a witness. The warning would caution the jury to consider the witness's age and the potential for a child's testimony to be influenced by suggestive questioning, leading to unreliable evidence. Section 659 removes this obligation, and juries are no longer required to consider the credibility of a child's testimony differently than that of an adult's. The rationale behind the abrogation of this requirement is to provide equal weight to all testimony, regardless of the age of the witness. The amendment underscores the importance of corroborating evidence to establish the fact in question. The amendment acknowledges the inherent vulnerability of child witnesses and the potential for them to provide unreliable evidence. However, it emphasizes the importance of examining all evidence, including child testimony, with scrutiny to ensure that the verdict is based on credible and compelling evidence. Under the current Criminal Code of Canada, if a child's evidence does not stand up to the scrutiny, a judge can choose to exclude it from considering while rendering a verdict. In conclusion, Section 659 of the Criminal Code of Canada eliminates the requirement for a mandatory warning to juries regarding convicting an accused based on the evidence of a child and stresses the significance of considering all evidence with scrutiny for a fair and just verdict.


Section 659 of the Criminal Code of Canada represents a significant shift in legal standards and reflects a changing understanding of the reliability of child testimony in criminal proceedings. Previously, many courts required that a warning be given to the jury in cases where the evidence being presented involved a child witness. This warning generally cautioned the jury to be careful when considering the testimony of a child, as children may be more susceptible to suggestibility and may not be able to fully comprehend the significance of their testimony. However, this requirement has been abrogated by Section 659, meaning that courts are no longer obligated to give such a warning. This change may reflect broader shifts in the legal system and in societal attitudes towards the role of children as witnesses. One possible reason for this change is a growing recognition of the importance of properly preparing child witnesses when they are called upon to testify in court. Rather than simply cautioning the jury about the reliability of child testimony, courts may now be taking a more proactive approach to ensuring that children are able to provide accurate testimony. This may involve providing special support and accommodations to child witnesses, such as allowing them to give testimony in a more comfortable environment or using specialized interview techniques to elicit their testimony. By preparing children beforehand and providing them with the necessary tools and support to provide accurate testimony, courts may be better equipped to ensure that accurate information is presented to juries. Another possible reason for the change in the law is a broader societal shift in attitudes towards children and their role in legal proceedings. Increasingly, children are being recognized as having agency and autonomy, and are being given greater opportunities to participate in decision-making processes that affect them. This recognition of children's rights may be reflected in the decision to remove the requirement for a warning about child testimony. Rather than implying that the testimony of children should be treated with caution, the law may now be signaling that children's testimony should be taken seriously and given the same weight as that of any other witness. While this change in the law may be seen as a positive development, it is important to recognize that there are still challenges associated with presenting child testimony in court. Children may still be vulnerable to suggestion or manipulation, and may not fully understand the significance of their testimony. As such, it remains important for courts to ensure that proper supports and accommodations are provided to child witnesses, and for judges and juries to carefully evaluate the credibility of their testimony in light of the specific circumstances of each case. Overall, however, the abrogation of the requirement for a warning about child testimony represents an important step in recognizing the rights and agency of children within the legal system.


Section 659 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a significant piece of legislation that has implications for lawyers and judges working on child sexual abuse and exploitation cases. The Code essentially removes any requirement for a court to give a warning to a jury about convicting an accused on the evidence of a child. As such, it raises several strategic considerations and possible strategies for lawyers in such cases. One of the first strategic considerations for lawyers in cases involving child witnesses is the fact that this section of the Code reduces the burden on the prosecution to prove the reliability of the child's testimony. This means that lawyers representing accused individuals must be highly skilled in cross-examining child witnesses to discredit their testimony in front of the jury. This could involve highlighting inconsistencies in their statements or demonstrating that the child's testimony was shaped or influenced by external factors such as suggestive questioning. Another important strategic consideration is the need to ensure that the child witness is adequately prepared and supported throughout the legal process. Child witnesses are vulnerable and may experience anxiety or other emotional distress when testifying in court. Lawyers representing the child may need to work closely with child psychologists or other professionals to ensure that the child is prepared and feels comfortable testifying in court. This may involve using techniques such as mock trials or other simulations to prepare the child for the court process and ensure that they are adequately prepared to give evidence. Lawyers representing the accused individual may also need to consider the use of expert witnesses who can provide evidence to counter the prosecution's case. This may involve engaging psychologists or other professionals who can testify to the reliability or unreliability of child eyewitness testimony. The use of expert witnesses can be especially important when the child evidence is central to the prosecution's case. Finally, lawyers must also consider the importance of building a strong rapport with the judge and the jury before and during the trial. This may involve ensuring that jurors understand the limitations of child eyewitness testimony and that the judge is aware of the challenges involved in these types of cases. Demonstrating empathy and compassion towards the child witness while also presenting a strong legal case can help lawyers build credibility with the court and sway the jury. In conclusion, Section 659 of the Criminal Code of Canada has significant implications for lawyers and judges dealing with child sexual abuse and exploitation cases. Lawyers must strategically consider the role of child eyewitness testimony, prepare and support the child witness, engage expert witnesses where appropriate, and build a strong rapport with the court and jury. By taking these steps, lawyers can ensure that their clients receive a fair trial and that victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation are adequately protected.