Her Majesty The Queen v. Nigel Vernon Lafrance
(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)
Criminal law - Canadian charter (Criminal), Right to counsel (s. 10(b)) - Criminal law - Charter of Rights - Detention - Right to counsel - Whether the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in finding that the respondent’s rights under s. 10 of the Charter were breached - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 10(b).
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The respondent was found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder. Shortly after the killing of the victim, police obtained a warrant to search the respondent’s house, and he was asked to voluntarily provide a statement to police while the search was being executed. The respondent agreed to do so, and he was interviewed in March 2015. He was not arrested at that time and was not provided with his Charter rights. Following the interview, the respondent consented to giving his fingerprints and a blood sample for DNA analysis, and he turned over his cell phone and some of his clothing. The respondent was subsequently arrested for murder in April 2015. He was given his Charter rights and the opportunity to contact legal counsel. After speaking to a lawyer, the respondent was interviewed and confessed to the murder. At trial, he brought an application seeking the exclusion of the evidence obtained as a result of the interviews, alleging his s. 10(b) Charter right had been breached on both occasions. The trial judge dimissed the application.
The respondent appealed his conviction. A majority of the Court of Appeal for Alberta allowed the appeal, set aside the respondent’s conviction and ordered a new trial. It found that the respondent’s s. 10(b) rights had been breached during both interviews, and held that the evidence obtained as a result of the interviews should be excluded under s. 24(2) of the Charter. In dissent, Wakeling J.A. would have dismissed the appeal.
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