Legal Word of the Day: “Random Virtue Testing”

Photo: Malcolm Lidbury

Photo: Malcolm Lidbury

“Random Virtue Testing” — A form of entrapment, in which a law enforcement officer induces someone to commit an offence he would not otherwise be likely to commit. It can be the basis for a defence against a criminal charge.

In the leading case of R. v. Barnes, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 449, “buy and bust” was put to the test.

The appellant had been found guilty of trafficking and possession of marijuana, but the trial judge found that the police officer had engaged in “random virtue testing” and granted a judicial stay for entrapment. Crown appeal was dismissed, with the court finding, in part, that the officer “did not have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the appellant was already engaged in unlawful drug‑related activity.”

Related cases:

R. v. Stock et al, 2009 ONCJ 325 (CanLII)
Wildlife officers lay POA charges after a “sting” operation.

Luring the lurers: B.C. Court OKs online police tactic:


  1. Tracey Gauley · ·

    Sorry I said that wrong…I meant, when charging the people offering money for the services that were lured/offered.

  2. Tracey Gauley · ·

    Awesome! In the movies where they use police officers as faux street-walkers to lure, I always wondered if that were a real practice, wouldn’t it also be entrapment when charging ‘Soliciting for the Purposes of Prostitution’?

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