Decision in R v Beaudry

The Supreme Court of Canada rendered a 5-4 decsion today in the case of R v Beaudry, 2007 SCC 5, denying the appeal and upholding the conviction. Charron J. wrote the majority judgment (LeBel, Abella and Rothstein JJ. concurring); Binnie J. wrote concurring reasons; Fish J. wrote dissenting reasons (McLachlin C.J. and Bastarache and Deschamps JJ. concurring).

The summary of the case on the Supreme Court site reads as follows:

Criminal law – Offence – Police discretion to gather evidence so criminal charges can be laid – Whether, in light of principles set out in R. v. Yebes, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 168, and R. v. Biniaris, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 381, Court of Appeal erred in finding that trial judgment reasonable – Whether Court of Appeal erred in incorporating legal context delineating exercise of police discretion into process of assessing mens rea of offence under s. 139(2) Cr.C.

Alain Beaudry was a police sergeant for the city of Repentigny. On September 22, 2000, he stopped a driver who was speeding and who turned out to be intoxicated. Beaudry then realized that the driver was a police officer with the Sûreté du Québec. Remembering that the driver was depressed because of problems in his love life, Beaudry decided to give him a chance. He took him to the police station but did not arrest him or administer a breathalyzer test to him.

At the request of his assistant chief, Beaudry later filled out an impaired driving report. The issue is whether, in the circumstances, Beaudry had a duty to gather evidence so that criminal charges could be laid against the driver. Beaudry was convicted of obstructing the course of justice (s. 139(2) Cr.C.).

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