Skip to main content

Cross-Examination on Criminal Charges Not Permitted

In Rana et al v. Ramzan et al, 2022 ONSC 5669, a witness called by the defendants denied in examination-in-chief ever being convicted of a criminal offence. In cross-examination, plaintiffs’ counsel sought to cross-examine the witness on information contained in a document which indicated that the witness had been charged with fraud.

Justice Daley stated:

[13]       As the documentation relating to charges against the witness had been in the hands of the plaintiffs for several months, they could have applied for a certificate of conviction, if one existed. An absolute or conditional discharge does not constitute a conviction.

[14]       Turning to first principles, evidence of alleged discreditable conduct on the part of a party or a witness in a civil or criminal proceedings, other than that which forms the subject matter of the case, is generally barred by the bad character exclusionary rule in all but exceptional cases: R. v. Handy2002 SCC 56 (CanLII), [2002] 2 SCR 908.

[15]       Evidence as to alleged criminal occurrences which resulted in charges are connected with nothing more than unproven allegations. The prejudicial effect of admitting unproven allegations is very high when measured against the probative value which in turn is extremely low given that the unproven allegations are in no way connected with the issues in this action: R. v. Goro2017 ONSC 1247Lawrence v. Thornton, 2013 CarswellOnt 12632.

Therefore, plaintiffs’ counsel was not permitted to cross-examine the witness in regards to the alleged criminal charges.