In assessing the conduct of all persons involved in the detention of an accused, what is the effect of section 503 of the Criminal Code?

British Columbia, Canada


The following excerpt is from R. v. Lau, 2003 BCPC 294 (CanLII):

Further, in assessing the conduct of all persons involved in the accused's detention, it is instructive to have regard to the comments of Mr. Justice Goodridge in Regina v. Simpson, supra: Section 503 may be one of the most important procedural provisions of the Criminal Code. The liberty of the subject is dominant. A person not convicted of an offence should never be held in custody except in accordance with constitutionally valid provisions of the code or other legislation. In some jurisdictions, even during the sitting week, the police will bring an arrested person before a justice, as soon as the various tasks that generally follow an arrest are completed, for hearing as to whether the person should be released or detained. If necessary, a trial will be interrupted for this purpose. The paramountcy of the liberty of the subject has been recognized in English law from the earliest times. Freedom is a fundamental right. It is not to be taken away except in strict accordance with the law. ... Where a person is arrested with or without warrant, it is the duty of the arresting officer to ensure that that person is not detained any longer than is absolutely necessary and that, if he or she is not authorized by law to bring about the release, the person is brought before a justice of the peace who may determine whether the detention should continue or not and, if it is not to continue, what lawful conditions should be attached to the release. (p.p. 386-7)

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