In Canada, pursuant to both the common law and the Criminal Code, police officers are allowed to make arrests. To do so, however, the officer must normally have Reasonable Grounds and a warrant. In some instances, officers can make an arrest without having a warrant.
Similarly, for a judge to issue a search warrant, there must be Reasonable Grounds for the warrant to be issued. If it later comes to light that a warrant was not valid (i.e., issued without Reasonable Grounds), any evidence obtained pursuant the warrant could be suppressed at the time the criminal trial goes forward. Similarly, if there was no Reasonable Grounds to arrest someone, the case could ultimately be dismissed. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Calgary, you should seek skilled legal representation in your case as soon as you can. At Bourdon Defence, our legal team can closely examine the circumstances behind your charge or arrest and determine if the Reasonable Grounds may have been lacking. Call us today at (403) 474-4143 or contact us online to find out how we might be able to assist you with defending your criminal matter.
Defining Reasonable Grounds
When it comes to determining whether there is Reasonable Grounds, a lawyer must examine all of the facts and circumstances in existence at the time of the offence. All of these facts and circumstances are legally referred to as the “totality of circumstances.” For Reasonable Grounds to exist, the arresting officer, taking into account all of the circumstances in existence at that time, must believe that a crime was committed—and that the subject of the investigation is the person who actually committed the crime. In determining whether or not Reasonable Grounds exists, courts often use the objective, “reasonable person” standard. A reasonable person, under the law, is an ordinary, hypothetical person who would take into account all of the available circumstances and facts surrounding the commission of a criminal offence. If, after examining the totality of circumstances, an objective, reasonable person would believe that a criminal offence occurred—and that the defendant was the individual who committed the crime—then Reasonable Grounds likely exists for a search or an arrest.
Reasonable Grounds Versus Reasonable Suspicion
Reasonable Grounds is a higher legal standard than reasonable suspicion. Although reasonable suspicion is a “lower standard” than Reasonable Grounds, it is typically more than just a “hunch” that criminal activity is afoot. Reasonable suspicion must stem from specific facts, combined with “rational inferences” garnered from those facts. For example, if a police officer observes a motor vehicle failing to use a turn signal or driving with heavily tinted windows, that fact is probably enough reasonable suspicion to pull the vehicle over for a routine traffic stop. Without more, there would probably not be sufficient Reasonable Grounds for the officer to undertake a search of the vehicle. If, however, during the traffic stop, the officer observes drugs or drug paraphernalia in “plain view” in the back seat of the vehicle, the officer will then likely have the necessary Reasonable Grounds to search throughout the vehicle for drugs. Moreover, if the officer uncovers a firearm or some other incriminating evidence in plain view during his or her search, that evidence could subsequently be confiscated, and the car driver (and possibly occupants) could face charges accordingly.
Reasonable Grounds to Make an Arrest
For a police officer to arrest you and take you into custody, the officer must have probable and reasonable grounds to charge you with committing a crime. If you try to physically fight back with the police officer during the arrest, you could face additional criminal charges. Those charges might include assault with the intent to resist arrest or obstructing the police. Just because a police officer has Reasonable Grounds to make an arrest does not mean that your rights go away. In fact, once a police officer detains or arrests you, there are certain legal rights that automatically come into play. Those rights include:
- The right to be informed about why the police officer is detaining you or arresting you
- The right to remain silent
- In most circumstances, the right to speak with a lawyer prior to and during any interrogation
- The right to be subject to a reasonable search that does not violate your Charter rights
If a police officer has detained you, there are certain things which they can and cannot do. Police officers can engage in a protective pat-down search to make sure that you are not a threat to the general public—or to the officers. The officers are not permitted to empty your bag, purse, or pockets. At this stage, officers are only permitted to do a general pat-down and confiscate any weapons. Police officers have more leeway to search individuals after they make an arrest. Once Reasonable Grounds has been determined and an arrest takes place, the officer may have the authority to perform a search incident to arrest. That search could include searching the individual as well as the individual’s car, if the arrest happened while the suspect was in the car.
Hire a Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer to Represent You Today
The question of Reasonable Grounds is often a fact-heavy inquiry. However, in some cases, police obtain evidence and arrests occur without first having the necessary Reasonable Grounds. If Reasonable Grounds is lacking, an attorney can request that the court suppresses any evidence stemming from the arrest. This could result in the dismissal of the charge and even the criminal case in its entirety. The criminal defence legal team at Bourdon Defence can investigate the circumstances of your charge and arrest and can determine if Reasonable Grounds might have been lacking in your case. Depending upon the circumstances, a lawyer might be able to argue lack of Reasonable Grounds in court and help you fight for a favourable result in your case. To schedule a consultation and free case evaluation with a Calgary criminal defence lawyer, you should give us a call today at (403) 474-4143 or contact us online.