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December 2017 Criminal Law Round-Up

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2018 | Monthly Round-up

Better late than never, here are the news and cases of the last month of 2017!


There was not a lot of news this month, save for the important announcement of the new Chief Justice of Canada as Richard Wagner, following Beverly McLachin’s retirement from the Supreme Court of Canada.


The Supreme Court released two decision dealing with search and seizure and the expectation of privacy in sent texts. In R v. Marakah and R v. Jones, the Court ruled that the sender of a text message has standing to challenge the validity of a search of another person’s device, given the residual privacy interest in the message. This short post from Jeffery Couse at Royle Law gives a good overview of the decisions. and check out Michael Spratt’s take on why Jones is among the most important cases of 2017 in his contribution to my Top Criminal Cases of 2017 post.

The issue of search and seizure was also addressed in the decision of R v. Christiansen from the Ontario Court of Appeal. The Court ruled that police officers cannot use general warrants as a substitute for regular search warrants, and must have reasonable, probable grounds in order the search. This case commentary by Cory Giordano provides some more context to the decision:

The Supreme Court also released the decision of R v. Boutilier, which addressed the constitutionality of dangerous offender designations and the resulting indeterminate sentences. The Court found that the regime is constitutional, and rejected the argument that the provisions are overbroad, given that the court will have to examine the individual’s future treatment prospects. This article from The Lawyer’s Daily provides a comprehensive overview of the case.

The Federal Court ruled in the case of Akhlagi v. Canada on the issue of prison disciplinary courts, and found that an inmate has the right to use the defence of duress in order to excuse certain behaviour. In her op-ed, Queen’s professor Lisa Kerr explains that the decision clarifies that the rule of law applies within prison walls, even though a defence of duress due to ‘prison code’ will be difficult to establish.

And finally…

If you haven’t checked it out, be sure to have a listen to The Docket’s Year End Extravaganza where hosts Michael Spratt and Emilie Taman respond to some hopes and wishes for 2018 from their past guests. You can hear my own hopes for criminal justice, along with those of Senator Kim Pate, Louise Arbour, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, Naomi Sayers, Nate Erskine-Smith and many more. It’s a great episode.

Happy New Year from McElroy Law!

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