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CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES - Protection against arbitrary detention or imprisonment

Friday, February 08, 2019 @ 7:55 AM  


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Application by the four accused, Stout, Broadley, SL Chalifoux, and ND Chalifoux, for a stay of proceedings based on Charter violations. The four applicants were arrested and charged with numerous offences. They were detained for 29 and a half hours before they were paraded in front of a justice of the peace to speak to bail. The police did not plan for the arrest of the four applicants. The charges arose from a traffic stop. The investigation resulted in the seizure of two firearms, ammunition, money, stolen property, and illegal narcotics. The information contained 41 separate charges. The complexity of the investigation was further affected by the fact that the police had to take active steps to confirm the identity of three of the four applicants. All of the applicants also had their behaviour restrained by some form of community supervision and some of the orders originated outside of Alberta. Some of the applicants had outstanding warrants as well. It was necessary for the police to confirm those orders and submit them along with the bail package. All of that work took place over a statutory holiday long weekend when public services were thinly staffed. At midnight, the bail office closed for the night. The applicants took the position that section 503(1) of the Criminal Code set an outside limit of 24 hours on the time that an arrested person could be held before appearing before a justice of the peace. They took the position that since the 24-hour time limit was exceeded, their detention was arbitrary, resulting in a breach of section 9 of the Charter. Broadley alone also claimed that his section 10(b) Charter rights were breached. The Crown took the position that the applicants were brought before a justice within 24 hours as contemplated by section 503(1) of the Criminal Code as their file was forwarded to the Crown at 10:56 pm, and that action initiated the bail process. The Crown further submitted that, regardless of when the clock started, all four applicants were taken before the justice as soon as reasonably possible and their detention was therefore not arbitrary.

HELD: Application dismissed. Section 503 of the Criminal Code imposed two different temporal parameters. Where a justice was available within 24 hours, the detainee had to be presented without unreasonable delay. Where a justice was not available within 24 hours, the detainee had to be presented as soon as possible. The police worked without unreasonable delay to get the applicants before a justice. The delay was explained, necessary, and reasonable, given the complexity of the unplanned investigation. The applicants’ detention for 29 and a half hours was not arbitrary and there was no violation of section 9 of the Charter. The Crown conceded that there was a breach of the implementational aspect of Broadley’s section 10(b) Charter rights. Broadley was not given access to a phone room until more than 15 hours after he invoked his right to counsel. However, that breach was inadvertent given the shortage of police officers working on a statutory holiday long weekend. Furthermore, Broadley was given access to a phone well before his bail hearing and there was no evidence gathered from him during the delay. Broadley failed to establish that he was entitled to a stay of proceedings.

R. v. Stout, [2018] A.J. No. 1535, Alberta Provincial Court, S.E. Richardson Prov. Ct. J., December 18, 2018. Digest No. TLD-February42019010