Is a Person Psychologically Detained?

AuthorSteve Coughlan/Alex Gorlewski
1.2(c) Is a Person Psychologically Detained?
As indicated in the annotations to Chart 1.2(b), Shades of Detention, the Supreme
Court in R v Grant, 2009 SCC 32, articulated numerous factors that should be
considered in asking whether a reasonable person in the circumstances would
conclude that they had been deprived of the choice as to whether to stay or go,
and had therefore been psychologically detained. Subsequently, lower courts
have considered how those factors should inuence the decision. No single
factor is determinative, and most are not binary choices: whether language is
coercive or not, for example, is something of a judgment call, and there is no
clear dividing line between a “longer” and “shorter” period of time. These fac-
tors create a spectrum of sorts — the more that the considerations tend to fall
on one side or the other, the more likely it is that will be the conclusion reached.
Not detained Detained
Police providing general assistance Police singling out individual
Police making general inquiries Person subject to focused
Non-coercive language used Coercive language used
No physical contact Physical contact
No physical barriers to leaving Physical barriers to leaving
Period of time shorter Period of time longer
Person sophisticated Person unsophisticated
Adult Young person
Others present No others present
Told free to go Not told free to go
Minority status1
This factor is placed in the middle because although the Court in Grant listed
this as a relevant consideration, lower courts have found it dicult to know
precisely what to do with it.
1191.2(c) Is a Person Psychologically Detained?

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