Analysis on R v MacDonald 2014

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“We are social beings and that we live in conditions of interdependence.[1]” This is the crux of legal liberalism, while legal liberalism argues for the individual this will always be constrained by our need for social interaction[2]. The case of R. v.

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MacDonald is based upon the issues that are faced when the police have to make a choice, protect public safety or violate an individual’s rights. Mr. MacDonald’s rights may have been violated but this violation of rights was consistent with the legal liberalism principal that follows those rights, they can only extend so far as to not infringe on other people’s rights. The case of R. v. MacDonald, 2014 SCC 3, revolves primarily around the issues surrounding the rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and how the police acted in this case. In the case at hand the defendant was having a party in his Halifax residence when some of his neighbours called in a noise complaint[3]. One officer arrived at the scene and was unable to persuade Mr. MacDonald to turn down his music so she called for another officer[4]. Upon arrival the second officer repeatedly knocked and kicked at the door until Mr. MacDonald opened it. Mr. MacDonald only opened the door a few inches and the offer observed what appeared to be a gun in his hand hidden behind his leg[5]. The officer then opened the door a bit more and confirmed that the metallic object was a gun, upon confirming that the officer forced himself into the apartment and disarmed Mr. MacDonald[6]. Upon further investigation it was revealed that the gun was not properly registered in Halifax and was only registered in Alberta[7]. Mr. MacDonald was charged under section 95 of the criminal code for unlawfully possessing a restricted firearm without a licence, section 86(1) carelessly handling a firearm and section 88(1) having possession of a firearm for a dangerous purpose[8]. Mr. Macdonald was convicted on all three counts and sentenced to a total of 3 years in prison[9]. The case was appealed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal where they upheld the sentences and convictions for the charges under section 86 and 88 but threw out the conviction on section 95, this was based on the successful argument that the defendant had made a mistake of fact when he believed that his firearms licence was valid for all of Canada[10]. His sentence was also reduced on the other two charges. This was then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada where the issue of the section 8 charter rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was the main focus as the defendant tried to have the other two charges dismissed,

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