Have the police served a search warrant at your residence?
If so, it’s important to understand your rights and cooperate with the police while asserting those rights. First, it’s important to know what constitutes a valid search warrant in Canada.
If the police arrive with a search warrant, remember to assert your rights calmly and courteously. You have the right to see the warrant, and the police cannot refuse to show it to you. Check that the particulars of the warrant are correct, and allow the police to enter and conduct the search only if the warrant is error-free. This blog will help you understand your rights when the police show up uninvited at your door with a search warrant.
What is a valid search warrant?
Understanding the legal validity of any search warrant should be your first step to gaining insight into what to do when served with one. In order for a search warrant to be considered valid, it must meet certain requirements and include specific information. Generally, a valid search warrant must:
- Be issued by a judge or magistrate: A search warrant must be issued by a neutral and detached magistrate who is not involved in the investigation and is not biased towards either the police or the accused.
- Describe the place or person to be searched: The search warrant must clearly identify the premises or person to be searched and provide sufficient details so that the police know exactly where they can search.
- Specify the items to be seized: The search warrant must specify the items to be seized and limit the scope of the search to only those items that are relevant to the investigation.
- Be based on reasonable grounds: A search warrant can only be issued if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been or is about to be committed and that evidence related to the offence will be found at the place to be searched.
- Be executed within a reasonable time: A search warrant must be executed within a reasonable time after it is issued, and the search must be conducted in a reasonable manner.
If a search warrant does not meet these requirements or is obtained in violation of an individual’s rights, the evidence obtained during the search may be excluded from trial.
What are some things to keep in mind when confronted with a search warrant?
As defence lawyers, we suggest you handle the situation without aggression and let the police conduct their search reasonably. However, protection against unreasonable search and seizure by the police is available to all Canadians under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Here are a few things to keep in mind if the police knock on your door with a search warrant:
- Assert your rights to the police without inflaming the situation by acting aggressively.
- It is your right to see the search warrant. The police cannot refuse to show the warrant if you ask to see it.
- We recommend satisfying yourself with the contents and particulars of the warrant. Ensure the address, name, and other relevant details mentioned therein are correct.
- We advise you to allow the police to enter and cooperate if the warrant is error-free.
- The police acting under a valid search warrant have the authority to secure the building and occupants present therein. Depending upon the nature of the warrant, you may later be allowed to leave the premises. But during the search procedure, always ask their permission to do anything while the search is on.
- You can refuse to answer the questions if the police ask any.
- It is your right to ask to speak to your defence lawyer. In case the police detain you, they must inform you of this right immediately after the detention.
Have you been served with a search warrant?
If you have been served with a search warrant and believe your rights have been violated, don’t hesitate to contact Shory Law. Our team of criminal lawyers can provide strategic representation for an effective and assertive defence. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards protecting your rights.