Her Majesty the Queen v. Justin James
(Ontario) (Criminal) (As of Right)
Constitutional law - Canadian charter (Criminal), Search and seizure (s. 8), Enforcement - Constitutional law - Charter of rights - Search and seizure - Enforcement - Exclusion of evidence - Information to obtain - Reasonable grounds to believe that evidence would be found - Whether the Court of Appeal erred in law by concluding that the respondent’s s. 8 Charter rights were violated by reason of the insufficiency of grounds to support a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19, search warrant - Whether the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in law by excluding the evidence pursuant to s. 24(2) of the Charter - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ss. 8, 24(2).
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The respondent was acquitted of drug and firearms charges on the basis that his s. 8 Charter rights were violated by the issuance of a warrant which was based on an outdated Information to Obtain (“ITO”). The trial judge explained that there could be no reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent was carrying contraband at the time he was searched, when any information about him in the ITO was dated some 23 days earlier. To hold otherwise, the trial judge held, would be to allow authorities to obtain warrants based on a person’s reputation, in this case as a drug dealer, as opposed to credible evidence of probability. He excluded the evidence pursuant to s. 24(2) of the Charter. The Crown appealed unsuccessfully, although Nordheimer J.A., dissenting, would have allowed the appeal, set aside the acquittals and ordered a new trial. In his view, the respondent’s s. 8 rights had not been breached, and even if they had been, the evidence should not be excluded.
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