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FactsEdit

The police had received a distress 911 call from Godoy's apartment which hung up. When the police came to check it out, Godoy would not let them in, but they forced their way in and investigated. They found his wife crying with a black eye, and she said that Godoy had hit her. The officers arrested Godoy, but in a struggle one of the officers' fingers was broken. Godoy was charged with assaulting his wife, but that charge was dropped after his wife testified that he had not hit her, and with assaulting a police officer with intent of resisting arrest. Godoy was acquitted at trial, but the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial, which Godoy appealed to the Supreme Court.

IssueEdit

  1. Did the police officers have the authority to enter into the apartment?

DecisionEdit

Appeal dismissed.

ReasonsEdit

If the police officers did not have the authority to enter the apartment, then they could not have made a lawful arrest and the charge must fall. Godoy says that the police did not have reasonable grounds to enter the apartment. He is charged under s.270(1)(a), which says that the police officer must be engaged in the execution of his duty for the charge to stand. Godoy argues that because the officer was not making a lawful arrest, he was not acting within his duty.

Lamer, writing for a unanimous court, agrees that there is a prima facie case for the police conduct to be interfering with Godoy's person and property, and therefore turns to the two-part Waterfield test to decide if the police action was justified:

  1. does the conduct fall within the general scope of any duty imposed by statutes or in common law?
  2. does the conduct, albeit within the scope of duty, involve unjustifiable use of powers?

To determine if this action falls within the officers' duties, he looks to the Police Services Act], which states that all duties recognized at common law are legitimate. An analysis of the case law discovers that the duties include the "preservation of peace, prevention of crime, and protection of life and property". Lamer holds that this conduct fell under the duty to protect life, as they received a distress call and heard a woman crying – therefore they had a duty to enter the premises and ensure that everything was alright. After this has been determined it is clear that the officers' conduct was not an unjustifiable use of powers, as they just entered the premises to make sure that the woman was not in serious danger. Once they entered the apartment and found the injured woman, they had the right to arrest Godoy under s.495(1)(a). They were using reasonable powers to protect life when they entered and discovered this, so the arrest was legitimate.

RatioEdit

  • To determine if an officer's conduct falls within his duty you use the Waterfield test, which asks:
    • was the officer was acting within his duties; and
    • if he was, did he use unreasonable force in enforcing his duty?
  • The police generally have a duty to protect life, prevent crime, and preserve the peace

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