Video recordings can be one of the most powerful forms of real evidence in criminal trials. Video recordings allow the judge and/or jury a first-hand glimpse at what occurred and often leave little room for interpretation.
For a video recording to be admissible as evidence at trial, it must fairly, properly and accurately depict what it purports to depict. It must not intend to mislead. The video must also be authenticated by whomever recorded it, or another party capable of confirming its accuracy. The video must not be altered in any way. If portions of a video have been altered, those portions will be deemed inadmissible, while the rest of the recordings remains admissible. The inadmissible parts will not be viewed by the judge and/or jury.
Person A is on trial for assault with a weapon after allegedly chasing and striking person B with a baseball bat inside a hotel lobby. Cameras in the hotel lobby captured the assault.
At trial, the Crown introduces CCTV footage from the hotel clearly showing person A violently assaulting person B with the bat. This provides the judge and/or jury with a clear view of what occurred and leaves little doubt that person A is guilty of assault with a weapon. A security guard from the hotel who was monitoring the cameras on the night of the incident testifies about the time, location and accuracy of the video played in court.
Common Examples of Video Recordings as Evidence
Common examples of photographic evidence used in criminal trials include:
- CCTV footage
- Police dashcam or body camera footage
- Dash cam footage from a private vehicle
- Privately recorded cell phone footage
- Video tapped statements to police of complainants or witnesses