The police pulled over the Defendant’s vehicle and came to the conclusion that his behavior was suspicious and that he might be in possession of illegal drugs. While he was in the back of a police car, they searched his vehicle and found a suitcase containing approximately $27,000 in cash.
There was insufficient evidence to charge Mr. Squire, but the police told him that he would be further detained and charged with possession of the proceeds of crime unless he signed a “Statement of Relinquishment,” acknowledging that the cash was not legally his and voluntarily forfeiting it to the Crown. Mr. Squire, who had had been advised of his Charter rights but had no had an opportunity to consult with counsel, signed the Statement of Relinquishment and was released without charge.
Mr. Squire later challenged the validity of the relinquishment, claiming that his Charter rights were infringed. Mr. Justice Sullivan of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench agreed, stating that Squire’s rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and arbitrary detention had been violated, and further that the police had failed to facilitate his request to contact legal counsel.
This case demonstrates that even if the Charter does not apply to civil legislation such as Alberta’s Victims Restitution and Compensation Payment Act, the police must still comply with Charter restriction when obtaining evidence. When evidence is obtained in breach of the Charter and the Charter breach in question brings the administration of justice into disrepute, the Crown cannot proceed to use evidence against the accused in either a criminal or a civil context.
Decided by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench on March 21, 2012.
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