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ROADSIDE STOP

DO THE POLICE NEED REASONABLE AND PROBABLE GROUNDS TO STOP A MOTOR VEHICLE?


The answer is usually "No".  


In most Canadian provinces, the police can stop any motor vehicle at random simply to inspect the driver's documentation.  


However, once the documentation is provided, the right of the police to detain the driver ceases, and the driver is free to drive away.


Absent certain circumstances, generally, the police require a warrant to search your motor vehicle.  I was successful in a motion to exclude evidence of cocaine seized by the RCMP in a Moncton case.  The Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the warrantless search was done in violation of my client's rights under the Charter. See R v Legere below.


CAUTION


You should never carry illegal material in your vehicle.  


While the police are conducting the "document inspection", the officer will usually make a visual inspection of as much of the inside of your vehicle as is visible.  


Beware, if there is any contraband or illegal material, in plain view, the officer may then have reasonable and probable grounds to search the entire vehicle and to arrest you, if there are breaches of the law.



Top of Form 1

R. V. LEGERE

Between  Her Majesty the Queen, and Legere [2006] N.B.J. No. 296,  2006 NBQB 192 300 N.B.R. (2d) 132, 70 W.C.B. (2d) 482, No. M/I/37/05

New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench, Trial Division - Judicial District of Moncton

G.S. Rideout J.

Heard: May 19, 2006., Judgment: June 1, 2006.

(64 paras.)

Constitutional law -- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- Legal rights -- Protection against unreasonable search and seizure -- Remedies for denial of rights -- Specific remedies --

Exclusion of evidence -- The evidence against the accused, who faced a charge of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, was excluded for having been obtained via an illegal search  -- Although the police had had good reason to stop the vehicle, there was no proper search incidental to a detention, meaning there was no reasonable and probable grounds for the arrest and subsequent warrantless search incidental to arrest.

Criminal law -- Controlled drugs and substances -- Possession or trafficking -- The evidence against the accused, who faced a charge of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, was excluded for having been obtained via an illegal search -- Although the police had had good reason to stop the vehicle, there was no proper search incidental to a detention, meaning there was no reasonable and probable groudnsd for the arrest and subsequent warrantless search incidental to arrest.

The accused's rights had been violated and the evidence was excluded -- The accused was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, and he brought a motion to exclude the evidence of the drug alleging that his rights under ss. 8, 9, and 10 of the Charter were violated and the admission of the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute -- The accused had been driving a friend's car along with two passengers when the officers saw them "rubbernecking" as they drove by five squad cars -- The police followed the vehicle, discovered the plates were expired, pulled the accused over, and him them a warning -- They then purported to detain the accused for trafficking in contraband and searched the vehicle, discovering the drugs --

HELD: The accused's rights had been violated and the evidence was excluded -- The court rejected the Crown argument that the accused had no standing to bring the application as he was not the owner of the car; in fact, the was in possession of the vehicle with the permission of the owner, and had been in possession for nearly six months, giving him a reasonable expectation of privacy --

Although the police in this case had reasons to stop the vehicle because it had an expired license plate, that matter was resolved when the police gave the accused a warning ticket -- However, there was no constellation of objectively discernible facts to give Constable Steeves reasonable cause to suspect the accused was criminally implicated in a particular activity under investigation -- There was no proper search incidental to a detention, meaning there was no reasonable and probable grounds for the arrest and subsequent warrantless search incidental to the arrest -- The breach was serious and the evidence was to be excluded.

Statutes, Regulations and Rules Cited:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 8, s. 9, s. 10, s. 24(2)

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, C-19, s. 5(2)

Counsel:

Gilles Daigle, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

Jim O’Neil, on behalf of the Defendant

Jim O'Neil, LL.B.

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