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Toronto Criminal Law Blog

Who Polices the Police? Not the Court of Appeal!

The Ontario Court of Appeal in the recent case of Regina v. Harrison, 2008 ONCA 85, has given a license for police to trample on individual rights so long as the fruits of their conduct yields evidence of a crime. Under what appears to be a new form of analysis of s. 24(2) of the Charter, as long as the Crown can establish that the admission of the impugned evidence is necessary to continue the prosecution, the harm to the reputation of the administration of justice from excluding the evidence would be greater than that from admitting it, and thus,…

BAD BOYS, BAD BOYS, What you going to do – Police Disciplinary Reports and Disclosure

For years, criminal defence lawyers across Canada have been told by their Crown Attorney counterparts that a third party record application was required in order to obtain police disciplinary records in defence of their clients. For years, criminal defence lawyers have argued, mostly unsuccessfully, that an officer's prior improper conduct was relevant to the police investigation and essential to making full answer and defence. On January 16, 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada finally released their decision in R. v. McNeil (originally argued on March 19, 2008.) This is the first significant decision out of the Supreme Court to deal…

The Rise and Fall of Evidence to the Contrary: A Brief History

Introduction Although charges of impaired/over 80 have decreased in the past two decades, these driving offences currently constitute 12% of all cases on the dockets of lower courts. With approximately 15,000 impaired/over 80 cases being heard every year in the low courts, these offences represent the largest category of offence currently being tried in this court. Parliament first introduced the offence of "driving while intoxicated" in 1921 but it was not until the late 1950's that law enforcement officials began to use breath testing devices as an evidentiary tool for the prosecution of impaired driving. Provision of breath samples were…


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