Section 715.1 of the Criminal Codes permits the reception of a videotaped statement of a complainant or witness under 18 at the time an offence is alleged to have been committed, provided certain statutory requirements have been satisfied. The provision does not authorize the introduction of evidence that offends other admissibility rules. Editing may be required to ensure compliance with these rules.
Section 715.1 permits the introduction of evidence only to the extent that the witness or complainant “describes the acts complained of”. References to other conduct not encompassed by the indictment or to conversations that form no part of “the acts complained of” are not rendered admissible by s. 715.1.
In R. v. J.A.T., for instance, the Court of Appeal for Ontario held that the trial judge had erred in admitting the complainant’s video statement under 715.1 without editing out references to the accused’s post-offence conduct.
R. v. J.A.T., 2012 ONCA 177 (CanLII), at para. 147, 159.
Evidence of victim or witness under 18
715.1 (1) In any proceeding against an accused in which a victim or other witness was under the age of eighteen years at the time the offence is alleged to have been committed, a video recording made within a reasonable time after the alleged offence, in which the victim or witness describes the acts complained of, is admissible in evidence if the victim or witness, while testifying, adopts the contents of the video recording, unless the presiding judge or justice is of the opinion that admission of the video recording in evidence would interfere with the proper administration of justice. [Emphasis mine].
Stuart O’Connell, O’Connell Law Group (All rights reserved to author).