R. v. Tessling

By: Sarah and Halton

What Happened?

  • In Feburary 1999, Ontario police received a tip from two informants about a suspicion that someone was growing marijuana in their home
  • The police checked with Ontario Hydro for any significant and strange amounts of electricity usage to be used for incriminating evidence
  • But because the police failed to find any unusual power of electricity they opted to use infra-red heat-sensor to detect any amounts of heat upon his property.
  • The RCMP flew over the suspect's house with a Forward Looking Infra-Red ("FLIR") camera and got a heat profile of the land and the information from the thermal camera was enough to obtain a search warrant as they now had reasonable evidence and grounds to do so
  • When they entered Tessling's home they found marijuana that was worth $15,000-$22,500 and also discovered freezer bags, scales and firearms
  • This was enough evidence to charge him with trafficking and possession of marijuana

Outcome and Relevant Laws

  • Despite the fact that the RCMP charged him for two criminal offences, he argued that them using the FLIR scan was a violation of his privacy rights; stated in section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedom - right against unreasonable search and seizure
  • Tessling was convicted in December 2000, but he appealed his case and in January 2003, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the helicopter "fly over" had in fact violated his rights
  • The court also concluded that the search was illegal and the marijuana evidence was excluded under section 24 (2) of the Charter
  • Thus overturning his conviction


  • However, the Crown appealed the case and the Supreme Court of Canada held that the evidence from the the RCMP fly-over was admissible and did not infringe on Tessling's privacy right and was not considered unreasonable under section 8 of the Charter
  • His conviction was restored and was sentenced to 18 months for trafficking in marijuana possession and possessing weapons.