Landmark case goes to Supreme Court
A Mississauga woman who left the corpse of her newborn on an apartment balcony was charged for something that shouldn’t be considered a crime, the Criminal Lawyers Association of Ontario argued in Canada’s top court this week.
The Supreme Court of Canada reserved judgment in the landmark case of Ivana Levkovic, 30, who is fighting the successful appeal of her acquittal on charges she concealed the death of her baby daughter.
Levkovic was acquitted more than three years ago by Justice Casey Hill in Brampton court. However, she’s been ordered to stand trial again after the Attorney General’s Office of Ontario successfully appealed the ruling last spring.
She took her case to Canada’s Supreme Court.
Levkovic’s new trial was to begin earlier this year, but it’s on hold pending the Supreme Court ruling.
Peel Regional Police charged Levkovic with concealing the body of a child after the remains of a baby girl were found in April 2006 in a vacant apartment in south Mississauga. Police were called after the superintendent of the North Service Rd. building discovered the remains in a plastic bag.
Levkovic was charged under Section 243 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which states, in part, that, “everyone who in any manner disposes of the dead body of a child, with intent to conceal the fact that its mother has been delivered of it, whether the child died before, during or after birth, is guilty of an indictable offence.”
Levkovic claimed she fell at home and went into labour. Tests were unable to determine if the baby died before or after birth.
Defence lawyers Jill Copeland and Delmar Doucette told the Supreme Court the law is too vague and doesn’t make it clear whether it’s illegal to conceal a miscarriage.
The section violates a woman’s privacy righ adidas zx ts by forcing her to disclose a failed pregnancy, they said. They wanted Levkovic’s acquittal recognized.
The Criminal Lawyers’ Association of Ontario intervened in the case, arguing the law criminalizes behaviour that is not a crime.
“The act of having a miscarriage is not illegal,” association lawyer Marie Henein said.
Government lawyers adidas zx for both Ontario and Ottawa say the law isn’t too vague and that it’s adidas zx there to let the public know it’s illegal to dispose of a dead body.
Levkovic was acquitted in summer 2008 after her trial lawyer, Michael Moon, successfully challenged Section 243 of the Criminal Code.
Moon argued the section “criminalized” a woman’s decision to conceal the fact that she was pregnant and had either a stillborn baby, a miscarriage or an abortion.
The right of a woman to control her own body is constitutionally protected, he added.
However, the Ontario Court of Appeal determined last year that Hill “erred” in his ruling.
Meanwhile, in the fall of 2010 in Toronto, Levkovic was cleared on charges of letting her baby die after birth and storing the body in a freezer.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove the baby was born alive and said it was likely Levkovic had a miscarriage.
Prior to her arrest, Levkovic worked as an exotic dancer at the Million Dollar Saloon on Torbram Rd. in Mississauga.
Legal experts say the Supreme Court’s pending decision could change the country’s definition of when a fetus becomes a human being.
Levkovic’s Supreme Court date comes just weeks adidas zx after the defeat of a private member’s bill that attempted to reopen Section 243 of the Criminal Code, which defines complete birth as the moment when a fetus legally becomes a human.