This type of defence is broad and can therefore be relied upon for a range of offences. It can be raised in circumstances where you are disagreeing with the facts the prosecution are saying support the charge(s). If you are able to demonstrate to the court that there is some uncertainty around the facts the prosecution are putting forward, then you ought to be found not guilty.
The burden of proof rests with the prosecution meaning they must prove each element of the charge beyond reasonable doubt.
How can this defence be relied upon?
There are a variety of ways in which this defence can be put forward by your lawyer. The approach needs to be case-specific because each case relies on unique facts. In-depth conferencing with your lawyer ahead of time is therefore crucial.
In order to show that the facts being put forward by the prosecution are not in fact accurate, it may be helpful for you to give evidence. This means you become a witness for the defence.
By giving evidence in support of your own case, you are able to communicate to the court your version of events (i.e. the ‘facts’) so that the inconsistencies in the prosecution case are made clear.
In other situations, it may not be necessary for you to give evidence. It might be a circumstance in which the facts asserted by the prosecution can be shown to be false through cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses.
What is an example of a factual dispute?
One example of a factual dispute is an allegation of making a threat to kill another person. If you agree there was a verbal disagreement however you deny having uttered the phrase, “I am going to kill you” then this is a situation in which you would put forward the defence of factual dispute as you are disputing what was said in the exchange.
What happens if the defence succeeds?
If you rely on this defence and you are successful, the court will find you not guilty of the charge(s).
It takes an experienced criminal defence lawyer to be able to identify when the defence of factual dispute applies. It is therefore important to seek legal advice as early as possible to determine whether this defence has any chance of success and how best to prepare the case if it applies in your case.
For more information, read our blog article on the defence of Factual Dispute.