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Recantation Of Domestic Assault Victim Statements

Video Transcript

One of the issues that often arises in domestic assault cases is that the police will take the under-oath video statement of the alleged victim – for example, the boyfriend or girlfriend who was allegedly abused or hit.

That’s under oath and it’s called a KGB statement. Now the difficulty arises – clients ask me this all the time: “Look, my spouse or significant other, it’s two weeks later, they want to reconcile, they’ve reached out to me even though it’s a non-communication order, and they’re now prepared to give a recanted statement to the crown.” They’re going to the crown to say “look, I was drunk that night. I don’t remember; I wasn’t necessarily lying to police but you know, the truth is I don’t remember what happened that night even though I have a black eye or there’s no injuries.”

And the client says, “why won’t they just drop the charges?”. It’s not that easy actualyl, even when they provide that statement, even when the victim goes to a lawyer. From the crown’s perspective, the statistics have shown that many of those victims who want to do that, they’re not necessarily telling the truth in their recanted statement, and we don’t know whether they are.

So policies and directives have over many years in the provice, have come down to this, so in that situation it’s very rare for the crown to drop the charge. The crown’s going to throw up their hands and say “look, we don’t know if they’re lying now or then. If we let them go back home (meaning the person being charged) we don’t know if he or she will beat up their spouse or significant other.”

In this situation is a phrase that I’ve heard many times. The crown’s going to say “let’s just run it”. In other words, set out a trial a year down the road and let the chips fall, we’ll see what they say on the witness stand.

And in that situation, the victim gets up on the witness stand, they say “I don’t remember, I was drunk that night.” The crown will often confront them with the KGB under oath victim statement in an attempt to show that’s the truth. And often-times those cases are won by the defence frankly, there’s usually a reasonable doubt. Not necessarily, because sometimes a person recants again and goes back to their original statement.

But there’s a reason for these laws, and I do agree with them. It’s very unsatisfactory for presumed innocent people. But the bottom line is that studies and statistics have shown that a certain percentage of men or women who go back their spouse are going to abuse them again, and this is why the crowns have these directives.

And unfortunately, innocent people get caught up in this, and many guilty people get caught up in this as well, and the matter has to go to trial or you decide to plead guilty, and I have to explain this to clients at a very early opportunity in the case.

So that’s typically what happens with a recanted statement. Now, sometimes the crown might withdraw the charge or do a peace bond, but I’ve seen so many cases go to trial in this situation, and we’re all gritting our teeth one year later and fighting it out in court, and sometimes a person’s innocent.

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