Offence Definitions, Conclusive Presumptions, and Slot Machines
College of Law, University of Saskatchewan
January 20, 2010
Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 48, p.145, 2010
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: Evidence law, presumptions, Dan-Cohen, Hart
Date posted: January 22, 2012 ; Last revised: February 5, 2012