Alberta (Justice and Attorney General) v. Cardinal, 2013 ABQB 407 – Defendant Disbelieved, Despite Acquittal in Criminal Trial

The Defendant, Bruce James Cardinal, was arrested while in possession of $1,625 in cash along with thirteen dilaudid hydromorphone pills. Alberta’s Minister of Justice alleged that the money was proceeds of unlawful activity, and further that Cardinal’s 2005 Chrysler 300 was an instrument of unlawful activity within the meaning of the Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act.

Cardinal was criminally charged in connection with the pills found in his vehicle. Although convicted of simply possession of the drug, Cardinal was acquitted of the more serious possession for the purpose of trafficking charge.

At the property disposal hearing, Cardinal acknowledged being a drug user but denied the trafficking allegations. He claimed that the money was not proceeds of drug trafficking, but constituted repayment of two loans he had made, which he intended to use for rent and a damage deposit on an apartment.

Mr. Justice Wakeling of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench delivered lengthy reasons for disbelieving Cardinal’s story, and concluded by noting that the Plaintiff in a civil forfeiture proceeding has the benefit of a lesser standard of proof:

“[133] At a criminal trial, the Court must acquit the accused if the prosecution has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt the physical and mental components of the charged crime. This is a very high level of probability. The level of probability required in an in rem property disposal hearing under the Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act is considerably less. The Minister need only prove the facts in issue on a balance of probabilities. Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act, s. 51(d).

[134] Given the different standards applicable in the two proceedings, it is conceivable that on the same facts a criminal trial judge may conclude that the prosecution has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and that a Court of Queen’s Bench judge conducting a property disposal hearing may conclude that the Minister had made his case on a balance of probabilities.”

On the basis of his factual conclusions, Justice Wakeling ordered full forfeiture of the 2005 Chrysler 300 and $1,625 in cash, despite Cardinal’s acquittal for on the criminal trafficking charge.

Decided by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench on July 17, 2013.
Click here for the full text of the decision.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Civil Forfeiture in Alberta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *