There are a number of offences in the Criminal Code that are based on being in the use a firearm. In a previous blog, we discussed the offence of carless use of a firearm. Other examples include: pointing a firearm at another person (s. 87 of the Criminal Code) and discharge of a firearm with intent to endanger a life (s. 244 of the Criminal Code). In most situations the outcome of the case turns on whether the Crown can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused either personally pointed or discharged the firearm or helped someone else do it (for example by being the driver in a drive by shooting).
These cases tend to focus on two things: circumstantial evidence and identification evidence.
Circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence, for example fingerprints or DNA.
When the Crown’s case consists wholly or substantially of circumstantial evidence, the standard of proof requires the trier of fact be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused’s guilt is the only reasonable inference to be drawn from the evidence as a whole. Inferences consistent with innocence need not arise from proven facts. Rather, they may arise from a lack of evidence. Accordingly, a trier of fact must consider other plausible theories and other reasonable possibilities inconsistent with guilt so long as these theories and possibilities are grounded on logic and experience.
Identification evidence usually comes from a witness to the events. It is the reliability of that identification that is at issue. We will have a blog on attacking identification evidence, which is often crucial in use of firearms prosecutions, in the near future.