Trial judge erred by excluding evidence found on computer telephone

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Trial judge erred by excluding evidence found on computer telephone

Accused charged with production of marihuana and possession of marihuana for purpose of trafficking. Police obtained warrant to search residence based on evidence that large amount of electricity was being stolen. Warrant authorized search for “documentation” of ownership or occupancy of residence. Police discovered marihuana grow operation. Police searched computers and cellular telephone and found evidence connected to accused. Trial judge held that no grounds existed to believe that ownership documentation would have been found in residence and that warrant did not authorize search of electronic devices. Evidence found on computer and telephone excluded and accused acquitted. Court of Appeal overturned acquittals and ordered new trial. Appeal dismissed. Warrant properly authorized search for ownership documents. Warrant did not authorize searches of computers or phones. Specific pre-authorization is required for computer searches. Trial judge erred by excluding evidence found on computer telephone. Evidence was reliable and infringing conduct of police was not serious.
R. v. Vu (Nov. 7, 2013, S.C.C., McLachlin C.J.C., LeBel J., Fish J., Abella J., Rothstein J., Cromwell J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., and Wagner J., File No. 34687) Decision at 99 W.C.B. (2d) 716 was affirmed.  110 W.C.B. (2d) 109.

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