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Digest of the Week | Warrantless Search

Digest of the Week | Warrantless Search

University student acquitted of liquor possession where police officer had no reasonable grounds for warrantless search of backpack



R. v. S. (E.)
2016 BCPC 270
British Columbia Provincial Court



Public law --- Liquor control — Search and seizure — Search without warrant — Validity of search

Accused was minor who was university student — Accused was observed carrying backpack outside university residence, by police officer — Officer searched backpack and found several beer cans — Accused was charged with unlawful possession of liquor — Accused claimed that officer did not have reasonable grounds to make search — Accused was tried on charge under provincial liquor control law — Accused acquitted — Only objective ground cited by officer for search was shape of backpack, which appeared to hold 12-pack of beer — Grounds did not reach level needed to conduct warrantless search, which was allowed — Officer could not rely on intuition as ground for search — Initial part of search did not reveal case, as opposed to eventually revealed cans — Search should have stopped after initial portion.
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