This one can get a little tricky. The answer is yes, and no.
Just like a door-to-door salesperson, a hockey team looking for bottles, or representatives of a certain religion looking to convert you, the police have the right to approach the front door of a residence and knock for the purpose of communicating with the occupants. However, just like anyone else, this ends at the door. The permission to approach the door is called “implied invitation. “The police can bang and yell, “This is the police, let us in!”, but you do not have to open the door, answer any questions, or cooperate with the police in any way…unless they have a warrant.
A warrant is a legal document that is signed by a judge or magistrate and gives the police permission to arrest someone or search their house
What Happens If Police Have A Warrant
Typically, before entering a home, or any location, the police have to get a warrant that authorizes them to enter to search, to make an arrest, or seize specified evidence that is relevant and material to an offence. The police should show you the search warrant. If they do not show it to you, ask to see it. They also must announce who they are, and the reason they wish to enter the property. Basically, a warrant is a substitute for consent to enter a private residence, or any other place with a reasonable expectation of privacy.
According to the criminal code, there are provisions for several types of search warrants, including :
The police do not have to knock first if that might lead to evidence being destroyed, or
someone being harmed. If they do knock and you do not let them in, they will use “reasonable force” to enter your home. If you try to stop a legal search, you can be charged with obstructing the police.
If the police are looking for evidence listed on the warrant and discover something related to another crime, they can (and will) use it as evidence.
What To Look For On The Warrant
Even though police are supposed to show you the warrant, sometimes it can be missed. Make sure you ask to see it, and check the following information is correct:
- Your address
- The date and times the warrant can be used.
- The judges, or Justice of the Peace’s name and signature, and the place, date, and time they signed.
If the warrant contains information that is not correct, tell the police. You can ask the police to leave, but even if there are small inconsistencies, like a spelling error, a warrant is usually still active.
When Can The Police Just Enter My Home?
The police can enter without permission or a warrant if:
- They need to prevent someone inside from being seriously injured or killed.
- There is evidence in danger of being lost or destroyed.
- To protect their safety or the safety of the public.
- To investigate a 911 call.
- To help animals in immediate distress
- To help a neglected or abused child.
- To help a “runaway” under the age of 16, who was in the care of a children’s aid society.
In an emergency, landlords can ask a police officer to come with them.
The police can also enter your home without a warrant if they are in “hot pursuit” of a suspect. For example, if they were chasing someone from the scene of a crime, and that person entered your home while running away.
The police may enter your home if you give them permission to do so. But remember, granting them permission to come-in is not the same thing as allowing them to search your home. They still need a warrant for that. Unless, you tell them it’s okay to look around. Then, the police can search your home without a warrant because you gave them permission.
So, if they knock on your door, it’s important to remember that, “It’s the police, can we come in?”, is much different than, “It’s the police, can we come in and look around?”
If you have been charged with a criminal offence and would like to speak to a lawyer about your rights, we offer a free 30-minute phone consultation to answer all of your questions. Contact us by phone at 613-233-0008 or e-mail at [email protected] to schedule your meeting.