Case Briefs
Database For Canadian Criminal Law

 R. v. Grant

List of Similar Cases | Add Data to This Case | Edit

 

  Home |Add a new case | List of Issues 
Search for a Case by Name, Cite, Issue, Facts and Reasons

Find A Case That Starts With

 

ID: 850

Title: R. v. Grant

Cite: 2009 SCC 32

Court: SCC

Date: 17/07/2009

Justices: McLachlin C.J. and Binnie, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella and Charron JJ.

Result: Appeal allowed in part

WhoWon: P

Issue: Exclusion of Evidence Remedy 24(2)


Charges: Possession of firearm for purposes of weapons trafficking


 

Reasons

[71] A review of the authorities suggests that whether the admission of evidence obtained in breach of the Charter would bring the admin- istration of justice into disrepute engages three avenues of inquiry, each rooted in the public interests engaged by s. 24(2), viewed in a long- term, forward-looking and societal perspective. When faced with an application for exclusion under s. 24(2), a court must assess and balance the effect of admitting the evidence on society’s confidence in the justice system having regard to: (1) the seri- ousness of the Charter-infringing state conduct (admission may send the message the justice system condones serious state misconduct), (2) the impact of the breach on the Charter-protected interests of the accused (admission may send the message that individual rights count for little), and (3) society’s interest in the adjudication of the case on its merits.

(a) Seriousness of the Charter-Infringing State Conduct

[72] The first line of inquiry relevant to the s. 24(2) analysis requires a court to assess whether the admission of the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute by sending a message to the public that the courts, as institu- tions responsible for the administration of justice, effectively condone state deviation from the rule of law by failing to dissociate themselves from the fruits of that unlawful conduct. The more severe or deliberate the state conduct that led to the Charter violation, the greater the need for the courts to dissociate themselves from that conduct, by excluding evidence linked to that conduct, in order to preserve public confidence in and ensure state adherence to the rule of law.

[73] This inquiry therefore necessitates an evaluation of the seriousness of the state conduct that led to the breach. The concern of this inquiry is not to punish the police or to deter Charter breaches, although deterrence of Charter breaches may be a happy consequence. The main concern is to preserve public confidence in the rule of law and its processes. In order to determine the effect of admission of the evidence on public confidence in the justice system, the court on a s. 24(2) application must consider the seriousness of the violation, viewed in terms of the gravity of the offending conduct by state authorities whom the rule of law requires to uphold the rights guaranteed by the Charter.

(b) Impact on the Charter-Protected Interests of the Accused

[76] This inquiry focuses on the seriousness of the impact of the Charter breach on the Charter- protected interests of the accused. It calls for an evaluation of the extent to which the breach actually undermined the interests protected by the right infringed. The impact of a Charter breach may range from fleeting and technical to profoundly intrusive. The more serious the impact on the accused’s protected interests, the greater the risk that admission of the evidence may signal to the public that Charter rights, however high-sounding, are of little actual avail to the citizen, breeding public cynicism and bringing the administration of justice into disrepute.

[77] To determine the seriousness of the infringement from this perspective, we look to the interests engaged by the infringed right and examine the degree to which the violation impacted on those interests. For example, the interests engaged in the case of a statement to the authorities obtained in breach of the Charter include the s. 7 right to silence, or to choose whether or not to speak to authorities (Hebert) — all stemming from the principle against self-incrimination: R. v. White, [1999] 2 S.C.R. 417, at para. 44. The more serious the incursion on these interests, the greater the risk that admission of the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

[78] Similarly, an unreasonable search contrary to s. 8 of the Charter may impact on the protected interests of privacy, and more broadly, human dignity. An unreasonable search that intrudes on an area in which the individual reasonably enjoys a high expectation of privacy, or that demeans his or her dignity, is more serious than one that does not.

(c) Society’s Interest in an Adjudication on the Merits

[79] Society generally expects that a criminal allegation will be adjudicated on its merits. Accordingly, the third line of inquiry relevant to the s. 24(2) analysis asks whether the truth-seeking function of the criminal trial process would be better served by admission of the evidence, or by its exclusion. This inquiry reflects society’s “collective interest in ensuring that those who transgress the law are brought to trial and dealt with according to the law”: R. v. Askov, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 1199, at pp. 1219-20. Thus the Court suggested in Collins that a judge on a s. 24(2) application should consider not only the negative impact of admission of the evidence on the repute of the administration of justice, but the impact of failing to admit the evidence.

[81] This said, public interest in truth-finding remains a relevant consideration under the s. 24(2) analysis. The reliability of the evidence is an important factor in this line of inquiry. If a breach (such as one that effectively compels the suspect to talk) undermines the reliability of the evidence, this points in the direction of exclusion of the evidence. The admission of unreliable evidence serves neither the accused’s interest in a fair trial nor the public interest in uncovering the truth. Conversely, exclusion of relevant and reliable evidence may undermine the truth-seeking function of the justice system and render the trial unfair from the public perspective, thus bringing the administration of justice into disrepute.

[83] The importance of the evidence to the prosecution’s case is another factor that may be considered in this line of inquiry. Like Deschamps J., we view this factor as corollary to the inquiry into reliability, in the following limited sense. The admission of evidence of questionable reliability is more likely to bring the administration of justice into disrepute where it forms the entirety of the case against the accused. Conversely, the exclusion of highly reliable evidence may impact more negatively on the repute of the administration of justice where the remedy effectively guts the prosecution.

[110] The third line of inquiry — the effect of admitting the evidence on the public interest in having a case adjudicated on its merits — will usually favour admission in cases involving bodily samples. Unlike compelled statements, evidence obtained from the accused’s body is generally reliable, and the risk of error inherent in depriving the trier of fact of the evidence may well tip the balance in favour of admission.

[111] While each case must be considered on its own facts, it may be ventured in general that where an intrusion on bodily integrity is deliberately inflicted and the impact on the accused’s privacy, bodily integrity and dignity is high, bodily evidence will be excluded, notwithstanding its relevance and reliability. On the other hand, where the violation is less egregious and the intrusion is less severe in terms of privacy, bodily integrity and dignity, reliable evidence obtained from the accused’s body may be admitted. For example, this will often be the case with breath sample evidence, whose method of collection is relatively non-intrusive. Edit


 

Click this link to Add Your Comments about: R. v. Grant

Click here to Add a Hyperlink re  R. v. Grant