R. v. Edwards, [1996] 1 S.C.R. 128

Police suspected the accused, Calhoun Edwards, of dealing drugs out of his car and believed that he stored drugs at his girlfriend’s apartment. When Edwards was arrested for driving while his license was suspended, the arresting officers witnessed him swallowing an object. He was taken into custody while police pursued a drug investigation.

Two police officers attended the apartment of Edwards’ eighteen-year-old girlfriend, Shelly Evers, and proceeded to question her, using “lies and half truths” to solicit her cooperation. Eventually, Ms. Evers showed them the stash of drugs belonging to Mr. Edwards.

A majority of the Supreme Court of Canada found that Mr. Edwards had no reasonable expectation of privacy in Ms. Evers’ apartment, and therefore concluded that there was no breach of his rights under Section 8 of the Charter:

“The accused had no privacy interest in the goods seized as he had denied that the drugs were his.  He demonstrated no expectation of privacy in his girlfriend’s apartment which was the only other relevant privacy interest.  His girlfriend described him as “just a visitor” who stayed over occasionally.  He contributed nothing to the rent or household expenses and had no authority to regulate access to the premises.”

On this basis, the evidence was admissible and Mr. Edwards’ conviction was upheld.

This case is a clear demonstration of the principle that Section 8 of the Charter protects “people not places.” The mere fact that evidence was obtained in a seemingly improper search is of no assistance to an accused who has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the place where incriminating evidence is deposited.

Decided by the Supreme Court of Canada on February 8, 1996.
Click here for the full text of the decision.

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