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Do Police Need A Search Warrant To Enter Your Home?

I want to talk to you a little bit today about whether a search warrant is required to enter your home. Let me give you an example, the police show up at your home, they knock on your door, which is a common technique they use, they show up without a warrant, and they explain that they are investigating a criminal offence, and they ask to you know, search your home. You can say “yes” or you can say “no”.  You say “yes” means consent. Once you give them consent, they are going to enter your home, and do any search they want, you know, pursuant to your consent, if they find evidence of a crime, that could be used against you.   Now, you could say “no” that’s your right. See, in order for the police to enter your home, they have to have what’s called “reasonable and probably grounds”, so there’s evidence of a crime in your home, and they would have to get what they call is judicial authorization, or a “search warrant” which is signed by a Judge or Justice of the Peace. A search warrant sets out their grounds in an affidavit called an “Information to obtain”, without that warrant, they can’t get into your home, that’s the bottom line. But that’s your right to refuse the police to enter your home. 

There are situations where the police can get in your home and I will give you a couple of examples.  There’s one called “hot pursuit”, say you’ve committed a crime and you are driving or running home and you’re in your home and slam the door and police saw you, they know you did a crime and now you are hiding in your home.  Well, they can enter your home.  That’s “hot pursuit”, that’s an exception. Another is what’s called “exigent circumstances”, that’s where you are committing a crime, in our home and the police know it. Say that they come to your door pursuant to a 911 call and they hear someone being severely beaten in your home. They could enter your home under that situation as well. So those are circumstances where they quite properly, don’t need a search warrant. But that’s your right, under section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you have the right against “unlawful search and seizure” and this applies to many situations where police would ask for your consent, totally up to you, certainly, I would never consent, to police searching my home.  If they showed up with the search warrant, I’d ask to see the warrant and of course, but they have no choice but the let them enter the home.  So that’s the answer to those questions which is a common question in criminal law.

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