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Lack of probable cause leads to acquittal for convicted dealer

Citizens of Ontario have a right to fair treatment at the hands of the law, regardless of who they are. The mere suspicion of wrong-doing is not justification for detention, or arrest. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to a Toronto man who was detained and searched without probable cause.

On Aug. 21, 2008, Toronto Police officers stopped a man who had just parked his Jaguar near Parkdale Collegiate, in the Queen St. W. and Lansdowne Ave. area. The two arresting officers gave different reasons to the court for the stop, one saying it was for a seat belt infraction, the other claiming the accused's music was too loud. He was also suspected of carrying a weapon on his person, which later proved to be false.

The man fled the police but was caught by the officers, detained and later arrested. A loaded gun was found in his car, as well as cocaine and marijuana. He was charged with 17 weapons and drug-related counts and sentenced to prison in 2010. In 2015, a new trial was ordered by the Ontario Court of Appeal; however the man had already finished serving his sentence the previous year.

The appeals court acquitted the man of all charges, determining the officers had no legal basis for stopping or detaining the man, and that the search of his vehicle was unjustified. The court even suggested the drugs may have been planted in the vehicle by the officers, and that they then colluded to give matching testimony. The acquitted man is now reportedly considering launching a civil suit.

Whether or not an individual is guilty of a crime, law enforcement officers have to abide by the laws governing proper arrest procedure. Any person who believes he or she has been arrested or endured a search without probable cause should talk to a lawyer. A criminal defence attorney may be able to help determine what course of action should be taken next.

Source: Toronto Sun, "Judge slams Toronto cops, acquits drug dealer", Michele Mandel, Oct. 6, 2016

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