Man dodges charges for grow-op but could still lose home
Published Tuesday, September 6, 2011 6:43PM PDT
The B.C. government has been cleared to go ahead with its bid to seize a former grow-op home, even though the house's owner was acquitted of all drug charges on a technicality.
Mounties discovered 396 marijuana plants and 30 half-pound bags of pot in an outbuilding on Christopher Shoquist's Qualicum Beach property in January 2009.
He was charged with drug production and possession, but acquitted in court after it was revealed that officers had accidentally trespassed on his property to obtain the information necessary for a search warrant.
Nonetheless, the Civil Forfeiture Office has applied to seize his home, valued at $316,000 in the latest property assessment, as proceeds of crime.
A B.C. Supreme Court Judge ruled last week that the province can proceed with the seizure claim in civil court, despite Shoquist's claim that his Charter rights had been violated.
Justice R. Dean Wilson wrote in his decision that the police officers weren't acting in bad faith when they mistakenly strayed onto Shoquist's property while surveying the area for evidence to obtain a warrant. The judge pointed out that civil proceedings do not require the same standard of proof as criminal proceedings.