Roadside stop leads to cultivation of cannabis charges and more
OFFENCE: Cultivation of Cannabis – Possession for the purpose of trafficking – Proceeds of Crime – Police obstruction
RESULT: Drug Charges withdrawn
LAWYER: Sean Fagan
Regina v. X.X. – Jan 2019
Charges: Section 354 of the Criminal Code of Canada – Section 5(2) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
This is yet another case involving the roving traffic unit, aka Pipeline investigators. Members of the RCMP roving traffic unit, are police officers highly trained in the powers of detention, arrest, search and seizure. They know the laws of the highway, and know the ins and outs of the Charter dynamics of searching a motor vehicle better than most criminal defence lawyers. They pull over vehicles they find suspicious. under a pre-text of a traffic stop for window tint, improper mud flaps, broken signal light or a multitude of other minor vehicle equipment regulation. A police officer familiar with the vehicle equipment regulations will always be able to find a reason to pull over the vehicle. Ironically, the deficiency with the vehicle that forms the basis of the traffic stop, is often present on the police patrol car. The real reason behind most of these pipeline traffic stops is the police officers are investigating criminal offences.
In this case, they pulled X.X. over for not having mud flaps – even though the police car didn’t have mud flaps. The police officer attended to the passenger side of X.X.’s vehicle and immediately engaged him in the usual ‘Q and A’ aimed at eliciting evidence that can be used to formulate grounds to search his vehicle. This Q and A is aimed at avoiding the detection of suspects. It goes something like this:
where are you driving to?
where are you driving from?
how long was your trip?
what is the purpose of your travel?
Inevitably, the police find that the story “just doesn’t add up”:
- The timing of the trip is suspect.
- Perhaps it’s the fact that there is too little luggage for the length of the trip.
This ‘Q and A’ is arguably a violation of a number of Charter rights, although it is extremely difficult to argue this defence at trial. The police at trial inevitably testify that they were just being friendly and having “small talk”. The lack of truth behind that statement becomes abundantly clear to an experienced defence lawyer who has seen hundreds of police officers testify to the exact same thing.
An individual is not required to answer these questions, but most people do, because the police play off of the friendly nature of unsuspecting travellers who have no idea that they are currently being investigated for a drug investigation.
In this case, X.X. knew his rights, and refused to answer the police officers questions. He simply handed the police his license and registration through the small gap in the window he created by rolling down the window mere inches.
The police officer demanded that X.X.. roll his window down further, and X.X. did not follow instructions. Ultimately the police advised X.X. that he was under arrest and proceeded to smash his window and extract him from the vehicle.
X.X. was arrested for resisting arrest and a search was conducted on his vehicle. The police seized suspected cannabis and cannabis plants. X.X. was charged with production of cannabis and a myriad of other offences.
Sean Fagan has successfully defended many highway drug prosecutions. These cases are extremely difficult to defend and without experience a lawyer may not appreciate the intricate avenues of defence. Even with experience, many lawyers will not see the viable avenues of defence on these cases. This is because the cases, on their face, appear air tight. On the face there was a legitimate reason to execute the traffic stop, there was a legitimate reason to search the vehicle, and all of this is tied in with the fact that these police officers are very good at what they do.
The police officers have pulled over 100s if not 1000s of vehicles using this ruse, and they have testified at a multitude of trials on cases that have nearly identical facts.
When looking for a lawyer to defend pipeline charges, hire someone with experience defending them. In this case, that is exactly what X.X. did.
X.X. retained drug defence lawyer Sean Fagan to defend this most serious prosecution. Sean Fagan was successful at sparing X.X. a conviction for any drug offence, and keeping X.X. out of jail.