R. v. Loewen, 2011 SCC 21

A police officer had smelled marijuana on the Appellant, Derek Loewen, after stopping him for speeding, and came to the conclusion that he had committed the indictable offence of possession for the purpose of trafficking. The officer proceeded to search Mr. Loewen’s vehicle and found 100 grams of crack cocaine. This appeal dealt with the legality of the detention and search.

The Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal (which had convicted Mr. Loewen with one dissent), finding that the arrest was lawful and the search incidental to the arrest. The court further referred to R. v. Grant to support the proposition that even if a Charter breach had occurred, the evidence would have been admissible in court.

This case is a clear example of how the constitutional restrictions on police have loosened in recent years, and particularly post-Grant, to allow for extensive arrest and search powers with little or no hard evidence that any serious crime has been committed. Given this legal trend, it’s little wonder that a “search first and ask questions later” policy seems to have been implemented at many police detachments.

Decided by the Supreme Court of Canada on May 5, 2011
Click here for the full text of the decision.

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Filed under Section 8: Search & Seizure, Section 9: Arbitrary Detention

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