The Toronto Sun
April 21, 2009
There have been some terrible miscarriages of justice due to proceeds of crime legislation in other countries.
Whether Canada will do better remains to be seen.
[efoods]To the surprise of at least one legal expert, the Supreme Court of Canada last week unanimously gave the provinces incredible powers to seize assets allegedly connected to crime.
For a country that has gained the reputation, whether deserved or not, of protecting the rights of the accused over the rights of victims, it’s quite an about-face.
As one worried reader e-mailed the other day: “This is a terrifying development. If the police even suspect you of a crime, they can take all your stuff. They don’t have to prove it.”
Is he right? “Yes and no,” says University of Manitoba law professor Michelle Gallant. The cops can take your car, for instance, if they think you’re using it to sell drugs.
But the police have to persuade a judge that, on a balance of probabilities, the vehicle is connected to crime. And that’s much easier to show than providing evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty of a crime.
In other words, if the police want your car, house, money or any other assets, they can get away with it without even arresting you as long as they convince a judge something doesn’t smell right. No conviction necessary.
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