Search Warrants | Understanding Your Rights
Typically a search warrant is required to enter and search a place for evidence of a crime. The warrant may authorize police to search you at night and it may also allow forced entry. However there are instances where the police can enter your house without a warrant.
The police can enter your house by invitation. For example, if the police come speak to you and ask if they can come inside. You do not have to consent to this. If you give them permission they will be allowed to enter your house.
Do You Need to Speak to the Police?
The police may visit you for legitimate reasons. For instance, they may be responding to domestic call or a 911 call. However you are not required to speak to the police. You can choose not to speak to them at any time. If you believe the police are investigating you for a crime, you have a right to remain silent. It is advisable for you to call a lawyer immediately.
Allowing the Police to Enter Your House | What Does This Mean?
The police cannot search your house. They need a warrant to do this. However they can search your house if you give them permission to do so. If the police searched your house without your consent, you need to talk to a lawyer.
The police may also enter your house without a warrant or consent. If the police have grounds to believe someone’s life is in danger, they may enter your house without a warrant or consent. This may be triggered by a 911 call. If the police are on “hot pursuit”, they may be allowed to enter your home to pursue a suspect. The police may also enter your house without a warrant to prevent destruction of evidence of a serious crime.
The Police Have a Search Warrant | What to Expect
If the police find evidence in connection to any crime, they may seize it. The police can also detain people found in the house when the search is being conducted. The police may also lay charges based on what is found in the house.
How Are They Issued?
Statutory provisions authorizing search or seizure must conform to the minimum constitutional requirements demanded by s. 8 of the Charter. For a search warrant to be issued, there must be sufficient credible and reliable evidence to permit a Justice of the Peace to find reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an offence had been committed and that evidence of that offence would be found at the specified time and place.
What Does This Mean?
This means a warrant cannot be issued without some evidence that 1) an offence has been committed and 2) there is evidence to be found at the place of search. The warrant cannot be issued based on conclusion and opinions not supported by facts and sources. At the minimum, there needs to be a nexus or some type of connection between the alleged crime and the place of search.
What is the Standard of Proof?
There must be reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed and that there is evidence to be found at the place of search. This threshold is not as high as proof beyond a reasonable doubt. However, mere suspicion, conjecture, hypothesis or fishing expeditions fall short of the minimally acceptable standard.
Your House Was Searched | Now What?
A lawyer can challenge the sufficiency of the information on a warrant. A search of your home is a serious intrusion. You have constitutionally protected privacy interests. A lawyer can help you fight your case. Call JKPC to help you through such matters.