R v Hopkins

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



Criminal Law, Canada, Charter, Unreasonable Search and Seizure, Arrest or Detention, Right to Counsel, Right to Be Informed, Charter Remedies, Exclusion of Evidence, Evidence, Proof, Standard, Circumstantial Evidence in Criminal Matters, Knowledge and State of Mind


Vehicle stops, and the searches associated with them, have a chequered history in the law. Early Charter case law essentially set back any real development of the s 9 right, when in R v Ladouceur, [1990] 1 SCR 1257, 77 CR 110 (SCC), a five-four majority upheld the ability of police to stop "any vehicle at any time, in any place, without having any reason to do so", which the dissent described as a "total negation of the freedom from arbitrary detention" (para 8). That result was moderated to some extent by R v Mellenthin, [1992] 3 SCR 615, 16 CR (4th) 273 (SCC), which did nothing to limit the stop power, but did limit the ability to search during the stop. [...] This seeming moderation, however, was largely undermined in R v Nolet, 2010 SCC 24, which upheld a search for a criminal law purpose which was undertaken during a stop which was nominally for traffic purposes. [...] It is therefore necessary for courts to be aware of, and to discourage, this sort of reasoning on the part of police officers. The decisions in Hopkins and Sappleton are clear instances of judges being alert to exactly that danger and working to reduce it.


Case comment on R v Hopkins, 2021 ONCJ 71.