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Offence Definitions, Conclusive Presumptions, and Slot Machines

Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 48, p.145, 2010

29 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2012 Last revised: 5 Feb 2012

Michael Plaxton

College of Law, University of Saskatchewan

Date Written: January 20, 2010

Abstract

Canadian evidence scholars frequently claim that conclusive presumptions are nothing more than substantive offence definitions. This position reflects a persistent confusion, not about the function of legal presumptions in the law of evidence, but about the function of offence definitions beyond the law of evidence. Offence definitions, unlike conclusive presumptions, serve the normative function of defining wrongful conduct for citizens. This commentary argues that the language of conclusive presumptions allows us to distinguish the gravamen of a criminal offence from a means of facilitating proof of that wrong. It is, to that extent, worth preserving the distinction between conclusive presumptions and offence definitions.

Keywords: Evidence law, presumptions, Dan-Cohen, Hart

Suggested Citation

Plaxton, Michael, Offence Definitions, Conclusive Presumptions, and Slot Machines (January 20, 2010). Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 48, p.145, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1988970

Michael Plaxton (Contact Author)

College of Law, University of Saskatchewan ( email )

15 Campus Dr
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N5A6
Canada
3069665894 (Phone)

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