Rationalizing Similar Facts: A Comment on R. v. Handy
Canadian Criminal Law Review, Vol. 8, pp. 113-133, 2003
21 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2010
Date Written: 2003
The Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Handy provides a welcome restatement and rationalization of the law governing the admissibility of an accused person's prior bad acts ("similar fact" evidence). The court recognizes that evidence of prior bad acts is evidence of bad character. But the court clearly states that such evidence is not admissible for the purpose of showing that the accused has a bad character. Rather, evidence of prior bad acts will be admissible only if it has probative value with respect to a specific, identified, and live issue at the trial and if that probative value outweighs two kinds of prejudicial effects: its tendency to encourage the trier of fact to convict the accused for being a bad person and its tendency to confuse and prolong the trial.
Keywords: Handy, admissibility, prior bad acts, similar fact, bad character, probative value, prejudicial effect
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