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Rob Case Study: A Discussion of Evidential Issues

Facts in Issue

Facts in issue can be defined as information whose legal credibility or liability can be drawn processes such as inquiries and can be used to make decisions1. According to Keane, the courts have a right to admit facts in issue as relevant information to a case as long as they can be proved by an evidence2. However, he points out that in specific circumstances the facts can be presumed in the absence of proof or incomplete evidence. The allegations that Rob intended to sell the drugs is a reputable presumption and the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

The case study presents a scenario of presumption of guilt knowledge. Possession of drugs of addiction is wrongful and Rob is stands liable for this offense. However, the intent of distribution cannot be assumed by inference to possession. In the case R vs. Lambert, Lambert was found in possession of two kilograms of cocaine and was charged and convicted with the intention to supply3. In his ruling the judge noted that the accused was aware of the presence of cocaine and therefore would not be presumed innocent. Consequently, the case was closely linked with mens rea and moral blameworthiness. Also, the judge noted that the discrete actions of sophisticated drug smugglers and denial of knowledge of contents by subsequent handlers makes it presents challenges to the police and other investigative bodies to conclusively state the facts of the issue. Similarly, an evidential issue is likely to arise from the possibility that Rob cannot be presumed innocent because it can be proved that his behavior was discrete. Based on his actions it he cannot be presumed that he did not have prior knowledge of the contents in his bag. His refusal to respond to police questions during the interview also cast a doubt on the extent to which he understood the moral blameworthiness of his actions. These considerations can imply that Rob was aware of the presence of cocaine. By hiding the drugs and alleging that the substances might have been implanted on him, it can be presumed that the accused is attempting to avoid blame.

Law of Evidence

The law of evidence refers to a body of legal rules that regulates what information is presented in courts as evidence and provides guidelines on the merits of admissible information4. A fundamental legal set of rules determines the validity and admissibility of information presented before a jury or a judge. In addition, the laws of evidence ensure that the judicial process is as time effective as possible besides mitigating the probability of presentation of irrelevant, unreliable, or biased information to the court.

In regard to Rob’s case, the law of evidence provides the legal rules to examine the allegations that he intended to supply the 100mg of cocaine found in his Bag. Based on the information provided in the case study, it is evident that the prosecution will rely on circumstantial evidence to build a case against Rob. According to Monir, circumstantial evidence proves a point or fact through inference5. In order for to prove guilt by circumstantial evidence Monir asserts that the following four things are essential:

  1. Whoever bears the burden of proof must be able to prove the circumstances from which the guilt is established

  2. The facts presented before the judge or jury should be consistent with the hypothesis demonstrating the guilt

  3. The circumstances thereby referred to must be conclusive and demonstrate tendency

  4. The presented circumstances should exclude any other hypothesis to the extent to which it is does not disregard moral certainty.

Based on the above stated pre-conditions to circumstantial evident the following evidential issues are likely to arise.

From the information provided, the prosecution does not have enough direct evidence to prove that Rob intended to supply the drugs. Based on the first pre-condition, — without further investigation on Rob’s criminal especially about drug possession and trafficking- the prosecution lacks the information to demonstrate that the circumstances from which they intend to conclude guilt from. There is no clear chain of evidence that leaves the judges without any reasonable doubt that Rob intended to distribute drugs.

Secondly, the possession of drugs alone is not a sufficient fact to demonstrate that Rob had the intention to supply the drugs. The police investigation report needs to show that Rob’s actions support the hypothesis that he intended to supply the drugs. Rob’s silence alone cannot be used to as admission of guilt or an inference to consistency of guilt.

In his defense, Rob states that a week before his arrest found a colleague rummaging through his bag and he found his colleague’s behavior suspicious. This statement implies that there could be a second hypothesis explaining the presence of the drugs in his bag. This piece of information casts doubts on the circumstantial evidence because it creates a second hypothesis. Based on fourth pre-condition, the prosecution’s hypothesis should be such that it excludes any other hypothesis.

Burden of Proof

The legal burden of proof mainly lies with the prosecutor. This situation also applies to Rob’s case. The prosecution needs to come up with a credible and consistent hypothesis that can demonstrate that Rob had the intention to supply the cocaine found in his possessions. Keane notes that the rule of law places the burden of proof on a party and the standard of proof is nothing less than presentation of evidence, facts and information that will convince the panel of the alleged guilt6. In special circumstances, the legal burden of proof regarding a particular issue may be borne by the defendant. In criminal cases, proof of insanity is one of the circumstances whereby the legal burden of proof as pertaining to the issue of mental health relies on the defense. However, seeing that Rob is of sound mental health this provision will not apply unless otherwise testified.

Human Rights Act protects Rob’s right to fair trial and provides him with a legal shelter against biased or discriminatory presumptions or allegations. The prosecution also has to consider other pieces of legislation especially those that relate to the controlled substances. The exceptions provided within these laws are likely to shift the burden of proof to the accused in accordance with the third exception of the Woolmington Rules. The third exception allows the burden of proof to be shifted to the defendant if the prosecution can present any implied statutory exceptions that allows for such actions.

According to Heaton and De Than, the law can do nothing about the evil thoughts or intentions of an individual unless the thoughts become manifested in actions7. With this in mind, the prosecution has evidential burden of proving that possession of the drugs is a manifested action of the intention to supply. Borrowing from the notions presented by actus reus Rob’s possession of cocaine can be viewed as a harmful conduct which is disallowed or illegal especially in view of the crime of drugs supply. The possession demonstrates on his part an omission to act lawfully as well as reveal a requisite to perform a prohibited consequence, which in his case is distribution. These are some of the evidential burdens of proof that are contained this case.

In summary, the evidential issues contained in Rob’s case range from issues regarding mens reus, actus reus and the validity and consistency of the circumstantial evidence. The facts of issues are based on inference and need to be backed up by factual information gathered from witnesses or criminal investigations. The Human Rights Act provide for the presumption of innocent until proven guilty. These provisions allow for the opportunity for a fair trial and protect the defendant from biased or discriminatory allegation. The element of Mens Reus also allows for the benefit of doubt especially in regards to the intention to supply. Nonetheless, the prosecution bears the burden of proof unless it able to cite an implied statutory provision that would shift the obligation to the defendant. Otherwise, the legal and evidential burdens of proof continue to lie sorely on the prosecution especially concerning this case.


Keane A., The Modern law of Evidence (Oxford publishers 2014)

Ormerod D, Smith J. C., Hogan B, Smith and Hogan’s Criminal Law. (Oxford University Press 2011)

Monir M., Textbook on The Law of Evidence (Universal Law Publishing 2010)

Heaton R., De Than C., Criminal Law (Oxford Publishers 2010)

R vs Lambert [2002] 2 AC 545 (HL)

Tyler T., Why People Obey the Law (Princeton University Press, 2006)

Fitzjames S. J., A general view of the criminal law of England. (Cambridge University Press 2014)

Manur Monir, Textbook on The Law of Evidence (Universal Law Publishing 2010)

Adrian Keane, The Modern Law Of Evidence (Oxford publishers 2014)

R vs Lambert [2002] 2 AC 545 (HL)

Stephen James Fitzjames, A General View Of The Criminal Law Of England. (Cambridge University Press 2014)

Manur Monir, Textbook on The Law of Evidence (Universal Law Publishing 2010)

Adrian Keane, The Modern Law Of Evidence (Oxford Publishers 2014)

Russel Heaton . Claire De Than, Criminal Law (Oxford publishers 2010)