Topic 1, Lesson 4, Activity 1: Charter of Rights and Freedoms
1. For which crime was the accused charged?
The accused was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
2. Did the Supreme Court find the accused guilty or not guilty?
The trial judge acquitted the accused due to s. 24(2) of the Charter, stating that the accused privacy rights were violated and there was an illegal search and seizure of a personal locker that was paid for by the accused.
3. Why did the search by the security guards not involve the Charter?
The Charter protects an individual’s civil rights from any interference by the government. The security guards behavior did not trigger the application of the Charter because the guards were not acting as agents of the state or in representation of any government agency.
4. To whom does the Charter apply?
The Charter applies to all Canadian citizens. The Charter protects individuals from government interfering with their civil rights. The civil rights consist of fundamental freedoms, democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights and language rights. For the Charter to stay consistent the Supreme Court of Canada has the ultimate authority to enforce such tasks.
5. The Supreme Court ruled that the evidence collected by the police should be excluded. What section of the Charter did the Court use in reaching this conclusion? Explain the meaning of this section in your own words.
Section 24(2): “Where, in proceedings under subsection (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
There are 3 factors that the court takes into consideration when determining if section 24 was violated. First, the court determines whether the admission of the illegal search and seizure will affect the fairness of the trial. If this inquiry is agreed, then the admission of the evidence would tend to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The evidence must be excluded, without reference to the other factors. The second factor concerns the seriousness of the Charter violation i.e. the defendant was denied his rights and freedoms as outlined by the Charter. Third, the court must look at factors relating to the effects of excluding the evidence (e.g. harm to other individuals).
When government agents violates the rights and/or freedoms of any individual with the objective of finding an evidence that could be used to support the accusation in the infringement of any law, this evidence shall be excluded at the trial process. Under the exclusionary rule, however, evidence can be altogether excluded from criminal trials; no matter how probative that evidence maybe, if it was the product of an illegal police search and seizure, the admission of the evidence could represent a serious concern in the administration of the justice.
6. Will illegally obtained evidence ever be allowed as evidence in Canadian courts?
The two first limitations on the entrenchment of the basic rights (“reasonable limits” and “notwithstanding clause”) should be taken into consideration. If important issues are at risk (e.g. social protection, or chance of lost, damaged or impending threat), the court could allow the evidence to be used in the court.
The Court of appeal did mention this situation in this case; when the court states “Moreover, there was no situation of urgency or necessity, as there was no immediate danger that the evidence would be lost, removed or destroyed, nor was an imminent threat posed by the marijuana in the locker, the situation did not require immediate action to secure the evidence, as the locking mechanism was still engaged and the 24‑hour limit had not expired.” This is an open door for those cases were evidence taking requires immediate intervention.
 Yates, R., Bereznicki-Korol, T. and Clarke, T. (2008) Business Law in Canada (8th edition.) Ontario, Canada: Person Education Canada.
 Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. Retrieved May 15, 2010, from http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2003/2003scc30/2003scc30.html
 Canadian Legal Information Institute. The Constitution Act, 1982. Retrieved May 12, 2010, from