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How to Take Photos for Use in Criminal Court in Canada

905-273-3322 or 1-877-273-3322

If you are defending a criminal case in Canada it may be helpful to have someone take photos of your injuries, or your car, or the location of the incident. Remember that when you go to Court the judge has to put all the evidence into some sort of order in his or her mind and the setting is important. Take photos that you can show to your lawyer of things that you think are important. Take photos, lots of them, that tell the whole story.

The accused person should not be the one who takes the photos. If you are the one charged, your lawyer may not want to put you on the witness stand. Ask a friend or relative to take the photos. Pick someone who does not have a criminal record and who takes good pictures. Don't tell the photographer the details about the incident because if you do the Crown may ask your photographer to give evidence of your statement to them.

The photographer should make notes of the time and date of each photo. Your photographer must be able to come to Court at the trial and bring the original media. They will be cross-examined by the Crown about how the photo may not accurately reflect the original incident because of passage of time since the incident, change of season, different time of day, and different weather.

Images saved to a CD or DVD can be used in Court. Prints are much easier to show to a witness in Court and mark as exhibits. Judges don't always have the equipment necessary to show digital photos off a CD or DVD. Sometimes digital photos are good where you need to enlarge a tiny picture to see detail such as a serial number taken by a camera wedged in a tiny place.

Video recordings are useful in dangerous driving cases where you reproduce the route on screen in the courtroom. They are good for showing roads, driveways, trees, obstacles, buildings, and features in the context of each other. A voice over can describe the route. You have to make sure though that both the videographer and the driver (2 different people) are both available as witnesses and that neither of them is the accused or his or her lawyer. Make sure the video displays accurate date and time. Show the odometer at beginning and end. Have the driver state the speed whenever it changes.

Take the photos soon after the incident. Canadian seasons do a lot to change the landscape. Gravel roads get paved and fences get moved. Lighting conditions change too so take the photos at a similar time of day if that's practical. 

Use fresh recording media that don't have other family events. Get the photos processed immediately. Keep the packaging and receipt. I find that non-professional photographers have difficulty remembering the date and time they took the photos. I suggest the photographer put their name, the date, and the time on the back of each print.

Don't mount the photos on a paper backing. Don't write or draw arrows or x's or notes on the photo. Leave them in their paper jacket and give them to your lawyer. Don't lose original media.

Any handwritten notes or instructions that you made and gave to the photographer should be returned to you and given to your lawyer forthwith.


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Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor

470 Hensall Circle, Suite 303
Mississauga, Ontario
L5A 3V4

905-273-3322  or 1-877-273-3322


Advertisement. Any legal opinions expressed at this site relate to the Province of Ontario, Canada only. If you reside or carry on business in any other jurisdiction please consult a lawyer, solicitor, or attorney in your own jurisdiction. WARNING: All information contained herein is provided for the purpose of providing basic information only and should not be construed as formal legal advice. The author disclaims any and all liability resulting from reliance upon such information. You are strongly encouraged to seek and retain professional legal advice before relying upon any of the information contained herein.