The recent decision of the BC Court of Appeal in R. v. Godbout, 2014 BCCA 319 (CanLII) confirms that it is not a wise course to use a courier to deliver your illicit drugs. Todd Godbout was convicted of possessing controlled substances for the purpose of trafficking. How were the drugs found? Well they were shipped to him through a courier. When the package was delivered to the courier office, the clerk became suspicious and opened the package. The police were called. The drugs were identified, a controlled delivery to Mr. Godbout was arranged, he was apprehended, the charges were laid and he was convicted.
Mr. Godbout appealed his conviction and the issue on the appeal was whether the opening and searching and seizure of the package that had been sent to him could withstand Charter scrutiny, specifically section 8 and the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.
Applying the established jurisprudence, the Court of Appeal stated that, to establish an infringement of section 8, one must establish that he or she had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the thing searched or seized. A reasonable expectation of privacy is to be determined on the basis of the totality of the circumstances. The court is to examine two factors: whether the applicant had a reasonable expectation of privacy so that the state conduct constituted a search within the meaning of section 8; and whether the search was unreasonable or, to put it another way, was it reasonable or justifiable?
In this case, the contract with the courier specifically provided that that courier could, “at its sole discretion, open and inspect any shipment and its contents at any time. Customs authorities, or other governmental authorities, may also open and inspect any shipment and its contents at any time.” This made the case distinguishable from R. v. Washington. In that case, in similar circumstances, the BC Court of Appeal had found there was a reasonable expectation of privacy, however, the contract or waybill in Washington did not authorize the courier company or its employees to open the package.
If you want to use a commercial courier to deliver your illegal drugs, read the shipping contact and terms very closely first!