28. Regina v. G.V. L. [Provincial Court of Alberta, Canmore – December 2012]

GVL was operating a motor vehicle east bound on Hwy #1 just west of Lake Louise when he was pulled over by the RCMP. The reason given by the police for detaining GVL was . . . “tinted windows”. As a consequence of a constellation of investigative variables including a very strong odour of air freshener, nervousness, third party vehicle and a past conviction for trafficking in marijuana (albeit 9 years prior) the police decided to detain GVL relative to a drug investigation and to deploy their police service “drug” sniffing dog. The police found a large hockey bag in the trunk of the vehicle which contained approximately 6 kilograms of marijuana in half pound bags. GVL was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking. An RCMP drug “expert” reported that the marijuana (if sold by the “gram”) would be worth approximately $86,000.00 and (if sold by the “ounce”) it would be worth approximately $51,000.00. We entered an election of trial by way of Provincial Court Judge and scheduled a date for trial. On the trial date we challenged a Crown application to amend the Information (formal charging document) to conform with the anticipated evidence. The presiding Provincial Court Judge agreed with the Defense that the amendment resulted in the prosecution of a new charge thus giving rise to the renewal of GVL’s right of “election”. As (to put it delicately) the stars were not lining up for GVL in terms of success at trial this day we re-elected to Queen’s Bench and adjourned the proceedings for conduct of a preliminary inquiry at a future date. Prior to commencement of the preliminary inquiry we managed to convince the Crown of the strength of our position vis a vis the search conducted by the police. Specifically . . . the dog handler had made a critical error in the manner of deployment of the dog. This unwitting error on the part of the police undermined the integrity of the search and brought into question the constitutionality of the entire investigation. To the credit of the dog handler he readily conceded the deployment error and candidly affirmed the concerns of the Defence to the assigned Crown prosecutor. Bottom line: we killed this prosecution in its entirety by way of the entry of a Stay of Proceedings is a legal term used to refer to a direction by a Crown prosecutor or a Judge to the Clerk of the Court to terminate a criminal prosecution. Click for more information..

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