Search Laws - Note - Understanding Canadian Law

Search and Seizure
Crime scene investigation must be done in accordance with Section 8:
right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure
Application to have evidence excluded due to unreasonable search are
submitted under s.24(2) of the Charter
o …evidence will not be used if its admission would bring the
administration of justice into disrepute. (make trial unfair)
Search Warrants
Court document requested by police and issued by a judge or a justice of
the peace to search a specific location
o Note: only specified items can be seized (SW not a ‘fishing
Telewarrants (over the phone) issued if time is of the essence
(*must be a serious crime)
A search warrant will be issued if:
1. Offence is suspected to have been committed
2. Reasonable & probable grounds (RPG) that evidence about
offence or person will be obtained
3. Anything intended for the purpose of the offence could be found
*RPG Example Scenario:
 Police receive a 911 call to an electronics store that has been help up
at gunpoint. You are seen running from the store with a laptop in hand
and a gun in the other
 Police would think it is reasonable to assume that you committed the
theft and are in possession of a weapon.
 If you were only standing outside of electronics store at the time of
robbery, but have nothing clearly on you – there is no reason to
search you.
Circumstances that do NOT require a search warrant:
1. Consent
Permission to search is given
Search and Seizure
2. Plain view doctrine
Ex. traffic stop and see handle of gun under seat – now can search
2. Search incidental to arrest
Ex. pulled over and arrested for drunk driving – now can search car
to see if they disposed of any other evidence
3. Exigent circumstances – imminent danger of loss, removal,
destruction, or disappearance of evidence if the search or seizure is
delayed, prevent danger or death to someone.
Ex. Man runs into house with gun and comes out without it – now
you can search house
Ex. Plane needs to be searched before it departs (not practical to get
a warrant) – to prevent danger or death of someone
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act:
 Under this act, the police may search any place that is not a private
residence (someone’s home) without a warrant
o If there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that
it contains illegal drugs.
o Note - anyone found inside these premises can also be searched
without a warrant.
Keep in mind - to search a residence a warrant is always required