Alberta’s top court reminds trial judges to follow Criminal Code, jurisprudence in rulings

Media
| 08 November 2022

When making their rulings, trial judges need to carefully follow both Criminal Code provisions regarding arrest without a warrant by a police officer and jurisprudence on the matter, the Alberta Court of Appeal held in a decision released on Nov. 1.

In R. v. Veen 2022 ABCA 350, the court allowed the Crown’s appeal on a decision by Alberta provincial court Judge M.V. De Souza, in R. v. Veen 2019 ABPC 55, and upheld by the summary conviction appeal judge, Alberta Court of King’s Bench Justice W.P. Sullivan, in R v. Veen, 2020 ABQB 99.

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Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt, a partner at AGP LLP and a Law Society of Ontario certified specialist in criminal law, said many sections of the Criminal Code place “obligations on the police without any consequences for their noncompliance with those obligations.”

“This is a systemic way that the status quo and the misuse of police power is legislatively protected,” he said. “We see this in not only in this section about arrests, but in recent legislative amendments to the Criminal Code, such as the requirement that police officers consider judicial referral hearings for bail breaches.”

Spratt said that police are given similar protection in Bill C-5, which passed first reading in the House of Commons last December, with respect to police considering diversion for minor drug offences.

He wishes that in Veen, Alberta’s appellate court had examined the “negative consequences of legislative obligations that end up shielding police and the justice system from ignoring or not complying with those obligations.”

“A discussion about that might have been an intellectually prudent thing for the court to do in this case,” said Spratt.

Read Chis Guly’s full story: The Lawyer’s Daily