Pot activist Tim Felger’s charter rights were breached, but he is still going on trial for drug charges in Mission, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Tuesday in Chilliwack.
Justice Bill Smart ruled that police breached Felger’s rights when an undercover officer entered his Das Bhang store/office in Mission in 2011, and gathered evidence which was used among details to obtain a search warrant.
The results of the search, in part, led to Felger’s arrest and subsequent charges in March 2011.
Felger had posted a sign outside his store, indicating that no police or RCMP members, or other government agents, were allowed on the premises without a warrant.
Smart ruled that evidence police gathered during those visits – and which led partly to their reasons for obtaining a search warrant – was obtained in violation of Felger’s charter rights and should be excluded from the trial.
However, Smart ruled that the search warrant had been lawfully obtained because of other information police gathered outside of Felger’s store – located at Horne Street and North Railway Avenue. This evidence was collected during police surveillance and interviews with neighbouring businesses.
The ruling means that some of the evidence is still admissible in court, resulting in Felger’s trial proceeding.
Jury selection is set to begin next Monday, with the trial slated for June 17.
The Crown lawyer indicated that he will be adapting the charges to reflect the judge’s ruling on the inadmissibility of some of the evidence.
Felger was initially charged with two counts of trafficking and two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Speaking outside of court, Felger said he expected the judge to agree that his rights had been breached.
“It’s really basic. The police need a warrant to enter my property, period. No discussion anymore. If they don’t have a warrant, they’re entering as trespassers,” he said.
However, he said he was disappointed with the second half of the decision.
“I think that the judge made his decision to proceed to trial on very flimsy evidence.”
Felger went to court last December on 2009 drug charges related to his former Da Kine store on Essendene Avenue in Abbotsford.
He was acquitted of all seven charges, after the judge ruled that all evidence collected by police following a search warrant at that location was inadmissible. Similar to the Mission case, Felger has posted a sign outside the premises, indicating that police were not allowed without a warrant.
Crown lawyers are appealing that decision, but a court date has not yet been set.