Search & Seizure Defence Lawyer in Ottawa
As a Canadian citizen, your rights are enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This Charter protects you from any unreasonable or arbitrary exercise of police power. This includes illegal or unlawful intrusion into your privacy or searches.
The Charter plays a vital role when a person is being charged with a crime and evidence has been obtained illegally. If the police have violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in obtaining evidence, then the evidence can be excluded from a trial and the prosecution cannot rely on the evidence to prove that the person charged with the crime is guilty.
Search & Seizure within your home
The saying “a man’s home is his castle” still rings true today. Your home is considered a private place under the law. There are only certain circumstances under which law enforcement officers may enter your home. Any other conditions will be considered trespassing.
- An officer has your implied consent to enter or walk onto your property in order to communicate with you at your front door, if the officer has a legitimate reason such as responding to a call or seeking information while carrying out an investigation. You have no obligation to answer the door when the officer knocks. You can also end the conversation whenever you choose.
- Law enforcement officers cannot walk up to your door just to see if there is any criminal activity in your home.
- Law enforcement officers may ask to come inside your home. You do not have to let them inside. However, giving them permission to enter your home is not the same as giving them the permission to conduct a search of the home. A search of the home in this case would be a violation of your rights.
- Law enforcement officers may search your home for evidence if they have a search warrant. They may also enter your home in search of a wanted person if they have an arrest warrant and believe the person they pursuing is in your home.
There are a few other circumstances when law enforcement officers may be allowed to enter your home without a warrant:
- In pursuit of a fleeing suspect
- In the case of emergencies, such as responding to a distress call or domestic assault
- To prevent the destruction of evidence when a serious crime is involved (e.g. to prevent flushing drugs down the toilet or destruction of DNA evidence)