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COMPELLING APPEARANCE, DETENTION AND RELEASE - Arrest - Without a warrant

Tuesday, March 05, 2019 @ 8:25 AM  


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Application by the accused, charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, to exclude evidence based on Charter breaches. Officers approached a parked vehicle with three occupants after running its plates and determining it was stolen. The driver was arrested for possession of the stolen vehicle. An officer searched the trunk and found marijuana inside. All occupants, including the accused who was a passenger in the back seat, were arrested for possession of a controlled substance. The accused was searched after her arrest and $385 in cash was found on her. She was arrested for possession for the purpose of trafficking after a further search of the vehicle revealed a brick of cocaine contained in a purse. One officer testified that only after the accused was given her Charter rights did she indicate she was the registered owner of the vehicle. A second officer testified the accused told him she was the registered owner but that he had not confirmed that information prior to the search of the trunk, which revealed marijuana.

HELD: Application allowed. The officers were not credible and reliable witnesses. There were no exigent circumstances that justified the police search of the trunk before the officers completed their brief inquiries on the identification of the three occupants and clarified that the vehicle was not stolen. The suggestion the police coincidentally confirmed the vehicle was not stolen only moments after an officer located marijuana in the trunk was too convenient and not capable of belief. There were no grounds for the accused’s arrest. The searches based on that arrest were conducted unlawfully. The conduct of the officers amounted to bad faith. The administration of justice would be diminished if the fruits of the investigation were admitted at trial.

R. v. Lacroix, [2019] B.C.J. No. 91, British Columbia Provincial Court (Criminal Division), N. Phillips A.C.J. Prov. Ct., January 24, 2019. Digest No. TLD-March42019005