The accused, Philip Henry Mann, had been placed under investigative detention by police on the grounds that he matched the description of a break and enter suspect. While under investigative detention, he submitted to a pat down search for weapons, and police proceeded to search his pockets, ultimately finding a bag of marijuana. It soon became apparent that Mr. Mann had no connection to the alleged break and enter for which he was initially detained.
Mr. Mann was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. The issue was whether police could use evidence obtained through an investigative detention for the ulterior purpose of prosecuting a drug charge when there were not reasonable grounds to search Mr. Mann’s pockets in the first place.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that although the initial search was justified on the grounds of officer safety, the subsequent fishing expedition for unrelated incriminating evidence was in violation of Section 8 of the Charter, and that admission of the illegally obtained evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute:
While a frisk search is a minimally intrusive search, as noted by this Court in Cloutier, supra, at p. 185, the search of the appellant’s inner pocket must be weighed against the absence of any reasonable basis for justification. Individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their pockets. The search here went beyond what was required to mitigate concerns about officer safety and reflects a serious breach of the appellant’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
This case demonstrate that investigative detention is, by definition, narrow in purpose, and cannot be used to justify the collection of unrelated evidence to which the police would not normally be entitled.
Decided by the Supreme Court of Canada on July 23, 2004.
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