The lawyers at Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh have a wealth of experience representing people that were the target of a search warrant. This includes searches of homes, vehicles, and wiretap investigations. If you or someone you know has been charged because of a search warrant, please give us a call at 416-613-0416 to schedule a consultation.
What is a Search Warrant?
Search warrants are judicial authorizations which allow the police to search a specific place. The Criminal Code of Canada outlines several types of search warrants which a police officer can apply for. Each type of search warrant has a specific standard which the police must meet before the issuing justice can lawfully issue the warrant.
Once a search warrant is authorized, it allows the police to conduct a search pursuant to the terms outlined in the search warrant.
Can The Police Enter my Home?
You are entitled to privacy in your home, so the police, in most cases, require a search warrant to enter and search your home.
However, there are several circumstances in which law enforcement can enter your home without permission and without a warrant. The police may enter your home if there are exigent circumstances, if they are in ‘hot pursuit’, or if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary to prevent an offence that would cause immediate injury or danger or protect life and safety for a resident in potential danger. An example of the latter would be if the police receive a hang up phone call during an emergency call, they are allowed to enter the residence to ensure all members of the home are safe.
Can the Police Search my Vehicle?
Like your home, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your vehicle, although to a lesser extent. To search your vehicle the police will need a warrant, your consent, or exigent circumstances. The police also have limited powers to search your vehicle incident to arrest if you are near or in your vehicle.
The police also have authority under the Highway Traffic Act, the Liquor Licence Act, and the Cannabis Control Act to search your vehicle in clearly defined circumstances. For example, if the police have reasonable grounds to believe there is cannabis (marijuana) within reach of the driver, the police can search your vehicle.
Can the Police Listen to My Phone Calls?
The police can apply to intercept your communications which includes text messages and phone calls. This is becoming a common technique that the police resort to during larger investigations. It allows them to listen to all your calls and gain a wealth of information about your personal life, your life circumstances, and any topics you may discuss with other individuals.
The police can also apply to insert audio probes to overhear your conversations. These audio probes can be put in your residence, your vehicle, a commercial business, or anywhere that the police believe there are grounds to intercept your conversations.
To ensure an individual’s privacy rights are respected the Criminal Code imposes strict rules for the police to follow when seeking warrants to intercept private communications. A wiretap warrant must be authorized under sections 185 and 186 of the Criminal Code. Every application by the police for a wiretap warrant must:
- Be made in writing to a judge of the superior court;
- Include an affidavit from a police officer detailing the investigation and the suspected criminal offences;
- Include details of the people whose communications they wish to intercept; and
- Outline the investigative procedures they have already used and why a wiretap is required.