Police Powers and Decision Making 26/04/2013 7:59:00 AM
Charter Rights and Police Powers
Besides entrenching constitutional rights for persons accused of
crimes, the Charter gave those accused the right to challenge the
actions of the police in situations in which those rights might have
Safeguards that are put on police include:
o The police cannot use certain investigative techniques without
prior judicial authorization.
o If the police gather evidence illegally, it maybe excluded from
a trail if its use would “bring the administration of justice into
o A defendant who feels that police officers or prosecutors have
used unfair tactics can plead not guilty and cite “abuse of
process” as a defence.
o A judge can remedy a violation of a defendant’s rights by
ordering a stay of proceedings or by ordering the Crown
attorney to pay some or all of the defendant’s legal fees.
Police officers now have the authority to:
o Use a warrant to obtain DNA from a suspect, by force if
o Obtain a variety of warrants to intercept private audio and
o Run “reverse stings” (for ex. sell drugs as apart of an
undercover operation and then seize both the money and the
o Obtain foot, palm, and teeth impressions from a suspect.
Restricted to judge decision;
o All information must be disclosed to defence attorney.
o Common-law knock notice rule is now replaced by a warrant
procedure that makes it difficult for police to apprehend a
person hiding in a house especially after 9pm.
o Warrantless searches have been deemed unreasonable.
o Severe restrictions have now been placed on the investigative
strategy of placing an undercover officer in a jail cell to elicit
evidence from a criminal suspect. Under the Anti-Terrorism Act: a peace officer may arrest a person without a
warrant and have that person detained in custody if the officer suspects, on
reasonable grounds that the person’s detention is necessary in order to
percent a specific terrorist activity.
The Power to Detain and Arrest
Arrest warrant: a document that permits a police officer to arrest
a specific person for a specified reason
If an arrest is warranted, and if there is no time to do so, a police
officer can seek an arrest warrant by swearing information in front
of a JP.
Information: a written statement sworn by an informant alleging
that a person has committed a specific criminal offence.
In Ontario, BC, Manitoba and Alberta all have access to a JP, 24/7
through telephone and fax services.
Police officers can arrest a suspect without an arrest warrant in the following
They have caught a person in the act of committing an offence.
They believe, on reasonable grounds, that a person has committed
an indictable offence.
They believe, on reasonable grounds, that a person is about to
commit an indictable offence.
Also, they may arrest under reasonable suspicions called
preventative arrest, under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Indictable offence: a serious criminal offence that often carries a
maximum prison sentence of 14 years or more.
Summary conviction offence: a less serious criminal offence, a generally
heard before a justice of the peace or provincial court to judge.
To make a lawful ar