Charter of Rights - Criminal law - Search and seizure - Reasonable expectation of privacy - Digital recording ammeter - Exclusion of evidence pursuant to s. 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Whether the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in law in concluding that police actions in asking the electrical service provider to measure the Respondent’s electrical consumption with a digital recording ammeter (“DRA”), and in reviewing the results produced by the DRA, involved a search subject to the requirements of s. 8 of the Charter - Whether the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in law in concluding that requesting the installation of the DRA and reviewing the DRA data constituted an unreasonable search.
The Respondent’s home became suspicious to Calgary police when they were in his neighbourhood investigating an unrelated matter. The police observed condensation on the Respondent’s home windows, considerable moisture being vented through the chimney and under the deck, and unusual ice buildup around the vents. The officers also noticed a smell of “growing” marihuana from the public roadway and therefore suspected that the Respondent had a marihuana grow operation in his home. The police then requested an electrical service provider in the area to install a digital recording ammeter (“DRA”) which would create a record of when the electrical power was consumed on the Respondent’s property. No judicial authorization for the DRA installation was obtained. With the information provided by the DRA and the earlier observations, the police obtained a search warrant to search the Respondent’s home. The trial judge dismissed the Respondent’s application to exclude the DRA evidence, although she did find that the Respondent’s s. 8 Charter rights had been breached. The Respondent was convicted of two drug offences. The majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial, finding that the use of the DRA amounted to a form of surreptitious surveillance of an individual by the police which, without prior judicial authorization, constituted unreasonable search and seizure. O’Brien J.A. would have dismissed the appeal.
Canadian charter - criminal.
(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)
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