Cops can now 'take all your stuff'
Quote:This is the first I've heard of this. WTF??
No doubt as it is not a popular decision.
Here's a related article from a few days earlier:
Quote:Top court upholds provincial right to seize property
Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service Published: Friday, April 17, 2009
A unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision Friday upholds provincial laws that permit police to confiscate goods they suspect they suspect are ill-gotten, even if they do not have enough evidence to lay charges.Geoff RobinsA unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision Friday upholds provincial laws that permit police to confiscate goods they suspect they suspect are ill-gotten, even if they do not have enough evidence to ...
OTTAWA -- Provincial governments were spared the prospect of returning millions of dollars in seized property when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that the Crown has the power to confiscate the proceeds of crime.
The unanimous decision preserves provincial laws adopted across Canada in recent years permitting governments to attempt to take the profit out of crime and to compensate victims by ordering the forfeiture of ill-gotten goods.
The ruling rejected an Ontario man's argument that the province's Civil Remedies Act is unconstitutional because it treads on federal jurisdiction over criminal law.
"Each level of government bears a portion of the costs of criminality and each level of government, therefore, has an interest in its suppression," Justice Ian Binnie wrote in the 7-0 decision.
Robin Chatterjee, a former student at Carleton University in Ottawa, was en route to his home in Thornhill, Ont., in March, 2003, when police pulled him over because his car was missing a front licence plate.
They discovered he was breaching a court order to live in Ottawa and upon searching his car, found a light ballast, one light socket and an exhaust fan -- items commonly used for marijuana grow operations. He also had $29,000 cash.
Police did not charge the young man because they said they did not have enough evidence.
Ontario's Civil Remedies Act, however, does not require a criminal conviction, so the province moved in and seized the goods after receiving judicial approval. A judge can give permission based on a balance of probabilitiesthat the goods were proceeds of crime, a standard that is not as high as the criminal test of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia all have forfeiture laws, according to documents filed in the Supreme Court.
Chatterjee's lawyer, James Diamond, predicted a spike in forfeitures following the Supreme Court's endorsement. Also, provinces that have put their efforts on hold pending the ruling can now proceed, he said.
"I certainly expect that all the provinces will step up their efforts," said Mr. Diamond.
Seven provinces joined the court challenge to side with Ontario in its successful argument that seizing proceeds of crime falls under provincial power over property and civil rights, rather than federal jurisdiction to craft criminal law.
"Forfeiture is the transfer of property from the owner to the Crown," wrote Justice Binnie. "Forfeiture does not result in the conviction of anybody for any offence."
As of August, 2007, Ontario had seized $15-million in property, according to court records.
Friday's Supreme Court decision upholds two previous rulings in the lower courts, including the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ruled in May, 2007, that the criminal law is not a "watertight compartment" that precludes provincial involvement.
The government also can freeze assets, as it did in January, in a case involving an Ottawa crack house.
British Columbia's Civil Forfeiture Office reported last August that it had seized $5.6-million in assets, mainly from illicit drug cases, since its law took effect in 2006.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which intervened in the appeal on Chatterjee's behalf, had warned the Supreme Court to be cautious of legislation "that permits the provinces to exercise coercive state powers under the guise of co-operative federalism."
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