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The Queen v. Ivan Y. (Newmarket)

The Charges: Possession of Loaded Prohibited Firearm with Ammunition; Possession of Firearm in Motor Vehicle; Unlawful Possession of Liquor (infraction of Liquor Licence Act)

The Facts: Ivan Y. borrowed his brother’s car while he was out of town. He met up with two friends and they went to a club. When they left, they were followed by police and pulled over because of an improper left turn. Unfortunately for them, they had been drinking from a flask of vodka concealed in a paper bag. Police used this infraction as justification for searching the car, which they are legally entitled to do. They found a loaded handgun concealed in the glovebox. As the driver, Ivan was charged; his friends gave statements to the police denying knowledge of the guns and were not charged.

The Defence Strategy: From the moment the gun was found, Ivan maintained that he had no knowledge of it. We went to trial and called Ivan and his friends as witnesses to testify that none of them had any knowledge of the gun. The key witness, however, was his brother Sergei, who was subpoenaed to testify. He admitted to the court that the gun was his. We had previously negotiated with Sergei’s lawyer for his cooperation by ensuring that his testimony was protected against self-incrimination under the Charter of Rights, which meant that nothing he said in court could be used against him.

The Result: Sergei’s protected testimony sealed the case for the defence, establishing a reasonable doubt about Ivan’s knowledge of the gun. He was found Not Guilty on the gun charges and acquitted by the Court. He did, however, receive a small fine for the having open liquor in the car, which is merely a regulatory infraction and not a criminal offence.

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