Audio recordings are a strong source of real evidence in criminal trials. While not as compelling as video recordings, audio recordings can offer the judge and/or jury in a criminal trial a window into what occurred during the alleged offence.
For an audio recording to be admissible as evidence at trial, the accuracy and authenticity of the recording and the identity of the speakers must be proven. The audio recording must not intend to mislead. The audio must be authenticated by whomever recorded it or some other person capable of confirming its accuracy.
The circumstances in which the audio recording was made may also be relevant in whether it is admissible as evidence. For example, if a wiretap was installed on a suspect’s phone without proper judicial authorization, any audio recordings gathered from that wiretap would be inadmissible.
Person A is on trial for drug trafficking. Prior to his arrest, police planted a legal wiretap on person A’s phone after receiving intel that he was operating a sophisticated drug trafficking operation. The wiretap records person A making arrangements to purchase 100 kilograms of cocaine from person B, an undercover police officer, for a specific price.
At trial, the Crown introduces the wiretap audio to prove that the accused had made arrangements with the undercover to purchase a large quantity of drugs. After playing the recording for the court, the undercover officer is brought in as a Crown witness to testify regarding the contents of the recording.
Common Examples of Audio Recordings as Evidence
Common examples of photographic evidence used in criminal trials include
- Audio recorded on a private cell phone
- 911 call
- Recording of a phone call