In this case, Canada’s highest court considered Section 8 of the Charter (which protects against unreasonable search and seizure) and wrestled with limits on the admissibility of evidence.
Police had engaged in surveillance of the appellant based on hearsay, then searched her in an aggressive and unreasonable manner. The search of the appellant’s person yielded the illegal drug heroine and she was charged under the Narcotic Control Act.
The Court ultimately ruled in a 5-to-1 decision that the evidence gathered in the illegal search (i.e. the presence of illegal drugs) must be excluded from the case against her under Section 24(2) of the Charter on the grounds that the admission of such evidence at trial would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The test under Section 24(2) was described by the majority as follows:
“Since the concept of disrepute involves some element of community views, the test should be put figuratively in terms of the reasonable person: would the admission of the evidence bring the administration of justice into disrepute in the eyes of the reasonable person, dispassionate and fully apprised of the circumstances of the case. A judge’s discretion under this test is thus not untrammelled, for he should not render a decision that would be unacceptable to the community, provided the community is not being wrought with passion or otherwise under passing stress due to current events.”
This case has placed key limits on the power of police to search and/or obtain evidence from accused persons.
The principles articulated in Collins were revisited and somewhat revised in the 2009 case of R. v. Grant.
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