Search and Seizure

Search and seizure in a school setting has always been regarded as a very sensitive topic. Some of the questions that arise are what is deemed to be reasonable grounds to search? What particular rights are there to search? When focusing on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 8 guarantees the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. (Mckay and Sutherland 2006) I will be focusing on two cases that went to court and what can be concluded based on these cases is that there are clearly no definite answers to these questions. Each case involving search and seizure is unique in its own way and however what is clear is that the importance answer in determining the decision is whether or not the search is reasonable.

Before going into the two different cases, it is important to note some important principles that judges may look for in cases of search and seizure. In Hunter v. Southam, Judge Dickson set out four principles governing search and seizure. The first principle is based on section 8 of the charter listed above, the second principle is the search must be reasonable, the third must focus on it reasonable and unreasonable impact on the subject, and the final principle addressed the balance between crime control and the protection of privacy rights. (Mckay and Sutherland 2006) One of the most well-known and significant cases dealing with search and seizure in the school system was the Supreme Court’s decision in R. v. M. (M.R.) 129 C.C.C. (3d) 361. In this case, the vice-principle of the school was provided with information for someone he deemed to be trustworthy and reliable. The information given was that a student was planning on bringing and selling drugs at the school dance. The evening of the school dance, the vice-principal escorted the student to his office and asked the student to empty his pockets and to pull up his pant leg. The drug, which was marijuana, was found stuffed in his sock. An RCMP official who was in...
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