Legal Word of the Day: “Wilful Blindness”

See No Evil

See No Evil

“Wilful Blindness” — Deliberate avoidance of knowledge of a crime, especially by failing to make a reasonable inquiry.

The wilful blindness doctrine creates an inference of knowledge of the crime in question. Mens rea, or a mental element in a criminal offence, must be proved. This can include where an accused committed a prohibited act not with intent or recklessness, but with wilful blindness, or “contrived ignorance.”

Mr. Justice Sopinka defined the analysis: “A finding of wilful blindness involves an affirmative answer to the question: Did the accused shut his eyes because he knew or strongly suspected that looking would fix him with knowledge?”

Wilful blindess in action:

R. v. Briscoe, 2010 SCC 13 (CanLII), [2010] 1 SCR 411
Wilful blindness can substitute for actual knowledge whenever knowledge is a component of the mens rea.

R. v. Filice, 2011 ONCJ 833 (CanLII)
A paralegal argues two HTA cases.

B010 v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration)/em><, 2012 FC 569 (CanLII)
Refugee or people smuggler?

R. v. Smith, 2008 ONCA 101 (CanLII)
Did the judge say fifty or fifteen metres?