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Search & Seizure Archives

Search for drugs ruled unlawful: trafficking charges dropped

Police officers must often rely on their instincts to tell them when something does not look right. Sometimes though, gut feelings need to be held in check by the letter of the law. Simple suspicion is not reason enough to detain a person without just cause. In the case of a search for drugs east of Toronto, a judge recently ruled in favour of a defendant when the search was deemed to be the result of profiling.

Seizing information found in smartphones

Throughout the Greater Toronto Area, residents rely upon their cellphones for communication. Whether that communication takes the form of talking, texting or email, few who have smartphones can likely imagine going back to a time when they were not available to use. Their popularity has ramifications in many different parts of life including criminal investigations. Specifically, questions have arisen regarding what information contained within the phone is discoverable to law enforcement. Recently the issue has been in the spotlight with our neighbor to the south as federal investigators in the United States seek to access the content of an iPhone that belonged to the perpetrator in a mass shooting. As of yet, the agency seeking that access has not been successful.

Rules pertaining to collection of evidence in place for a reason

We have previously written about the important role evidence can play in establishing guilt or innocence related to a criminal charge. That evidence must be obtained in accordance with certain rules. Among other things, the evidence collected must not be overbroad. These rules are in place to protect the civil rights of residents of Ontario. Recently, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled on a matter of this nature related to the collection of cell phone records.

Feedback provided to proposed carding rule

In previous posts we have written about changes activists have sought related to law enforcement's practice of carding, in Toronto. In response, this past fall a draft regulation which is supposed to prohibit the arbitrary and random collection of identifying information by law enforcement officer, was released by Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. While their efforts were successful, some are concerned about how police officers would be able to get around the proposed rule regarding the matter. Specifically, a coalition of groups against carding believes that there are many loopholes in the proposed legislation that would result in few changes to the practice.

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.

Evidence obtained through wiretaps should be carefully scrutinized

When investigating drug trafficking or importation, law enforcement officers often try to piece together an additional charge of conspiracy. The investigative efforts that lead to conspiracy charges may involve wiretaps and other searches that require warrants.

Judge throws out drug charges after York police violate man's Charter rights

When police officers violate one person's Charter rights, everyone's constitutional rights are threatened. Still, improper police conduct happens more often than you might think.

How long can police keep items seized in criminal investigation?

Readers are likely well aware of the importance of evidence when it comes to proving or disproving a criminal allegation. Depending on what someone is accused of the evidence will take different forms. When it comes to child pornography offences the use of a computer is often involved. Accordingly, the files found on the computer will be relevant. Of course to determine what files are on computer one must be able to access those files. If they are password protected this can be difficult.

What rights do I have before, during and after an arrest?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically addresses the rights of individuals who have been detained by police or charged with a crime. If the police detain or arrest you, then you have a right to be told the reason why. The charter also states that everyone "has a right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure."

Supreme Court: Police don't need a warrant to search your cellphone

In a controversial judgement, the Supreme Court of Canada recently decided that police officers are not required to obtain a warrant to search a suspect's cellphone. The 4-3 decision drew criticism from privacy experts, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

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