Entrapment in Canada

Entrapment occurs when:

(a) the authorities provide a person with an opportunity to commit an offence without acting on a reasonable suspicion that this person is already engaged in criminal activity or pursuant to a bona fide inquiry; or

(b) although having such a reasonable suspicion or acting in the course of a bona fide inquiry, they go beyond providing an opportunity and induce the commission of an offence.

The law of entrapment in Canada is intended to prevent the police from attracting someone who is not already involved in criminal activity into committing a crime by offering an opportunity to commit a criminal act. This is known as random virtue-testing. When determining whether the police engaged in random virtue-testing, the police conduct must be assessed for its reasonableness.

Reasonable suspicion is a low standard to meet and requires proof that the individual targeted is possibly engaged in criminal activity. It is something more than a mere suspicion and something less than a belief based on reasonable and probably grounds. The facts must support the suspicion and allow for an independent judicial assessment. It is important to consider the totality of circumstances when assessing the existence of reasonable suspicion. The inquiry must consider the constellation of objectively discernable facts that are said to give the investigating officer reasonable cause to suspect that an individual is involved in the type of criminal activity under investigation. This inquiry must be fact-based, flexible, and grounded in common sense and practical, everyday experience. A police officer’s grounds for reasonable suspicion can’t be assessed in isolation.

The court has the power to stay proceedings if entrapment is established.*

William Poulos, Barrister
* This blog is not a substitute for legal advice. Should you require legal advice, a lawyer should be consulted to advise on the specific circumstances of your case.

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