Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Similar Fact Evidence Definition:

Evidence tendered in a criminal trial to demonstrate that the accused previously engaged in the relevant prohibited activity.

In Working Manual of Criminal Law, the authors succinctly define similar fact evidence as follows:

"It is evidence pertaining to similar conduct of the accused on other occasions or of the commission by the accused of similar offences. It is evidence of ... propensity.

"Similar fact evidence is presumptively inadmissible."

In R. v. B., Justice Maclachlin wrote:

"The analysis of whether the evidence in question is admissible must begin with the recognition of the general exclusionary rule against evidence going merely to disposition.... (E)vidence which is adduced solely to show that the accused is the sort of person likely to have committed an offence is, as a rule, inadmissible. Whether the evidence in question constitutes an exception to this general rule depends on whether the probative value of the proposed evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect."

In Sweitzer, Justice McIntyre of Canada Supreme Court wrote:

"... where similar fact evidence is tendered ... its admissibility will depend upon the probative effect of the evidence balanced against the prejudice caused to the accused by its admission whatever the purpose of its admission."

French: preuve de faits similaires.


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