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About Offences

Classifications of Offences

The Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R. vs. Sault Ste. Marie, Set out three classifications of offences. These classifications of Offences apply to Traffic Tickets. It is important to know when defending a charge how the offence is classified. The three classifications are as follows: Mens Rae Offences are offences in which the prosecution must prove the mental element (the guilty mind), sometimes referred to as conscientiousness of guilt. Essentially, in addition to proving the actus reus (the guilty act), the prosecution must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to commit the offences.

Strict Liability Offences are offences where the prosecution does need to prove the mental element (or intention) to commit the offence however the defendant can lead evidence to establish or advance a strict liability defence. This sometimes has the effect of appearing to be a reverse onus on the defendant. Read R. v. Sault Ste. Marie for more information. Absolute Liability Offences are offences where the prosecution does not have to prove the mental element (Intention) to commit the offence. Simply proving the guilty act beyond a reasonable doubt is sufficient for conviction. Raising a reasonable doubt is somewhat trickier but there are still ways you could raise a doubt.

Elements of Offences

The elements of an offence differ from charge to charge. They are the ingredients of a charge. For instance if you were making Apple pie and had no apples, well… you wouldn’t have apple pie. By the same token if you were defending a stop sign charge and there was no evidence of a stop sign, well…there wouldn’t be a stop sign charge. There are common elements such as date, identification, etc but for the most part the actual charge or act is proven differently. When you defend any charge, in addition to finding out the classification of offence, you should also learn the elements of it as well.

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