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Planted evidence does not provide pretext needed for search

When someone is suspected of engaging in an illegal activity, there are certain things that Toronto law enforcement officers can do to determine whether that is in fact what is going on. Under certain circumstances an officer can perform a search of a house or vehicle to get more information. To take this course of action there must be a pretext for that search. If there is not pretext, a search is not legal. In addition, police officers cannot create a pretext that does not in fact exist.

Recently, a judge determined that Toronto police did that very thing. Police officers arrested a man after finding 11 grams of heroin that was wrapped in plastic and hidden behind his car’s steering column. The heroin was found after police searched his vehicle.

Specifically the Ontario Superior Court judge found that police did not have a right to search the vehicle in the first place and to get around that, after the search was committed and the drugs found, police sprinkled loose heroin powder next to the driver’s seat.

According to the accused he was approached by an officer who recognized him as a result of previously arresting him for heroin possession. The police offered a different story, among other things, that the man was stopped after failing to stop at a red light. Based on multiple factors, including a recording of the full radio dispatch that transpired that night, the judge determined the story the police officers told was not true.

This finding is important since it resulted in the charges against the man being stayed.

Following an arrest and criminal charge there are multiple ways to approach the creation of a defence. The specifics of each case will determine what those options are.

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