If you have ever been searched by the police, you may have wondered if they had the right to do so. The answer is not always clear, and it may depend on many factors, such as whether they had a warrant, whether you were under arrest, and whether the search was related to the reason for your arrest.
In this blog post, we will explain the basic principles of the law of search and seizure in Canada and how they affect your rights as a citizen. We will also give you some tips on what to do if you think you were searched unlawfully by the police and how to contact an experienced criminal law firm in Edmonton who can help you with your case.
What Is The Law Of Search And Seizure In Canada?
The law of search and seizure in Canada is governed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Constitution of Canada. The Charter protects the rights and freedoms of all people in Canada, including the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
Section 8 of the Charter states that “Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”
This means that the police cannot search you, your belongings, your car, or your home unless they have a valid legal reason to do so. The police must either have a warrant or a legal authority from a common law or statutory source to conduct a search.
A warrant is a document issued by a judge or a justice of the peace that authorizes the police to search a specific place for a specific purpose. It is important to note that a warrant must be based on reasonable grounds, which means that the police must have some evidence or information that suggests that a crime has been or will be committed and that the search will likely reveal evidence of that crime.
How To Tell If You Were Searched Lawfully By The Police?
The question of whether a search was lawful or not is often a complex one that can only be answered by a careful analysis of the facts and the law. Sometimes, the legality of a search can only be determined after a court hearing with the help of an experienced criminal lawyer. A judge ultimately decides whether the search violated the Charter or not.
However, there are some general guidelines that you can use to assess whether a search was likely lawful or not.
Here are some of them:
- If the police had a warrant, they should have shown it to you or left a copy of it with you before or after the search. They should also have knocked and announced their presence unless they had a valid reason not to do so.
- If the police did not have a warrant, they should have told you the reason for the search and the legal authority that they relied on.
- If the police searched you to arrest you, they should have arrested you for a criminal offence and not for a minor violation, such as a traffic ticket. They should also have searched you for a legitimate purpose, such as finding weapons, drugs, or evidence of the offence. They should not have searched you for an unrelated reason, such as looking for money, personal information, or other items that have nothing to do with the offence.
- If the police searched your car, they should have had a reasonable suspicion that your car contained evidence of a crime or that it was necessary for the safety of the police or the public. They should not have searched your car for a random or arbitrary reason, such as your race, gender, or appearance. They should also have searched your car in a reasonable manner and not have caused unnecessary damage or inconvenience to you.
- If the police searched your home, they should have had a warrant unless there was an urgent or exceptional situation, such as a threat to life, a hot pursuit, or consent from you or someone else who had the authority to give consent. They should also have searched your home in a reasonable manner and not have exceeded the scope of the warrant or the consent.
What To Do If You Think You Were Searched Unlawfully By The Police?
If you think you were searched unlawfully by the police, you should not resist or argue with them at the time of the search. This could lead to further charges, such as obstructing justice, assaulting a peace officer, or resisting arrest. You should cooperate with the police but exercise your right to remain silent and not answer any questions or provide any information that could incriminate you.
You should also contact an experienced criminal lawyer in Edmonton as soon as possible, who can review your case and advise you on your options. A criminal lawyer can help you challenge the legality of the search and seek to exclude any evidence that was obtained unlawfully from being used against you at trial.
Moreover, a criminal defence lawyer can also help you defend yourself against any charges that may arise from the search and protect your rights and interests throughout the criminal process.
About Slaferek Law
Slaferek Law is a reliable criminal defence law firm in Edmonton, Alberta. We handle all types of cases, including cases related to search and seizure, to protect the rights and freedom of individuals accused of different crimes.
Our vast experience in the field of law allows us to handle every aspect of a defence case, from the warrant execution to arrest and the trial. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you build a strong defence.