Charged for being downtown Ottawa after Emergency Act invoked

R v. DeCaire

Charged for being downtown Ottawa after Emergency Act invoked

R v. DeCaire

Posted April 4, 2023:

Christine DeCaire was acquitted by the Ontario Court of Justice on March 23, 2023, of all charges laid against her. She had been arrested on February 18, 2022, while standing on Nicholas Street in downtown Ottawa during the time of the Freedom Convoy and after the federal government had invoked the Emergencies Act. 

She had been charged with mischief, with obstructing/resisting an officer in the execution of their work, and with disobeying a Lawful Order.

Christine stood by her Charter right to be presumed innocent throughout – a presumption that the Crown failed to refute. She remained adamant that she had done nothing to warrant an arrest. Despite requesting a lawyer within minutes of her arrest, no lawyer was provided to her. Others who had been arrested reported the same lack of access to legal representation and counsel. Section 10(b) of the Charter states that everyone has the right upon arrest or detention “to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right.”

Evidence at Christine’s trial revealed no opportunity to speak to counsel had been provided. The Ontario Court of Appeal recently articulated that those “arrested or detained are apt to require immediate legal advice that they cannot access without help, because of their detention.”

At the conclusion of the trial on March 23, 2023, the Ontario Court of Justice found that the omission of legal advice for Christine was not a minor breach of her Charter right to counsel.

The Court ultimately found that the evidence presented by the Crown against Christine failed to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” the allegations of obstruction and mischief pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada. Evidence corroborated by police witnesses indicated that Christine had, in fact, been cooperative throughout her arrest and detention.

Following a three-day Charter Application and Trial, the Judge acquitted Christine of all charges. Christine expressed satisfaction with the Court’s determination stating that “the result was exactly what it should be.” She further expressed relief and stated, “I feel very fortunate to have this dealt with and over already.”

Christine’s lawyer Monick Grenier remarked, “The Charter has not failed Canadians. Canadians need to know their Charter rights, and they need to take all reasonable steps to ensure that they are respected–such as clearly asking to speak with a lawyer if arrested or detained. While ignorance of the law is not a defense, ignorance of one’s Charter rights may be equally detrimental.”

Updated October 7, 2023:

On October 3, 2023, Chris Fleury, legal counsel for Ms. DeCaire, received the Crown’s factum for the appeal and received the remainder of the Crown’s documents later that week. Lawyer Chris Fleury appeared at the Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa (via Zoom) and set a date for the appeal hearing of January 17, 2024 at the Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa. Judge and Courtroom information will be available closer to the hearing. Our reply factum will be drafted and available in December 2023.

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