TABLE 1: Wrongful Convictions in Canada - Sex Crimes
Who is this table for? This is a non-exhaustive list for anybody doing research for an upcoming trial or appeal, or for those researching wrongful conviction patterns in Canada. Sadly this country is lacking in any sort of database similar to that of the U.S. National Registry of Exonerations. The only 'known' overturned convictions cited by Canadian media are those achieved by Innocence Canada (formerly AIDWYC). They've achieved just 20+ since 1993, approximately 1 per year. However, there are many more hard-fought 'unknown' overturned convictions achieved every year in appeal courts without the assistance of Innocence Canada.
The case law collection in the table below illustrates the opposite is true of commonly cited pre-conceived notions among the Canadian public when it comes to people accused/prosecuted/convicted for sex crimes:
- Myth 1: False allegations and/or wrongful convictions are rare.
- Myth 2: If someone is arrested, charged, prosecuted and convicted that always means there was ample proof they did the crime.
- Myth 3: It is impossible to be convicted in a case with no hard evidence or proof that a crime occurred.
- Myth 4: Judges are independent, unbiased, highly analytical, intelligent, knowledgeable of the law and are therefor highly unlikely to make errors in law.
For something to be deemed rare it would have to be uncommon and marked by unusual quality. In fact, wrongful convictions occur with shocking regularity as exemplified by the overturned convictions in the table below. They are caused by common and preventable factors continuously repeated year after year most often in cases of one word against another and no confirmatory evidence a crime actually occurred. For example, the year 2016 alone saw 23 known overturned convictions for alleged sex crimes with judicial errors in law such as misapprehension of the evidence or misapplication of the standard of proof being the most commonly cited reasons by the appeal courts.
NOTES ABOUT THE DATA:
- The records are searchable, including their hidden data fields: Case Summary, Trial Judge at Fault or Attorney at Fault.
- N/A denotes either Not Available or Not Applicable depending on the context.
- The Cited Cause column generally denotes only what the appeal courts ruled as the cause of the wrongful conviction/miscarriage of justice. It does not necessarily mean there weren't other causes, but just that if there were, they weren't addressed on appeal and are therefore not a part of the final record. For example, appeal factums presented by the defence often contain multiple grounds of appeal but the appeal court may only choose one to overturn the conviction and ignore the remaining grounds. Regardless of whether or not they may be legally legitimate.
- Perjury is a crime that is only cited by the courts as a cause of wrongful conviction if the complainant admits on the record to lying and the court accepts it as evidence.
- Citations are links to the actual court decision rendered. Within those links you can track the case's history from start to finish, if available. Unfortunately not all case decision histories are properly linked, nor are they all available in the public CANLII database, though they should be for the appearance of integrity and transparency on the part of the courts.
Clary Jaxon is the sole creator and curator of this list. It is the only known list of its kind in Canada. This list is a work in progress and updated from time to time to add old and new cases. If you would like to contribute to this database feel free to offer case suggestions through the contact form at the bottom of the home page. If you have found this table useful kindly consider tipping via the donation form.