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When Can the Police Legally Enter Your Home?

Though police have a certain social authority in general, there are only specific circumstances in which it is legal for police to enter your home or property.  Below are some of the circumstances in which police can legally enter your home:

Entering Your Home with Your Permission

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It may be evident that police can enter and search your home if they are given permission to do so by an adult.  If police would like to enter your home and you do not wish them to enter, the only circumstances they would be allowed to enter anyways would be if they had a warrant or if they had a concrete reason or tangible evidence that a dangerous crime was occurring in your house at that exact moment.  If the police do enter your house with your permission, you have the right to ask them to leave at any time if they do not have a search warrant.

Entering with a Warrant

If the police have a search warrant or an arrest warrant, they can enter your home and search your home at any time.

What Is a Warrant?

A warrant is a legal document signed by a judge that states a legal requirement for someone who is to be arrested or a location searched.  If allows the police the power to enter and search your home even if you do not want them to or are not home.  Impeding a warranted search or arrest will likely result in a charge of obstructing the police in their duty.

What is a Search Warrant?

A search warrant gives the police the right to enter a home and search for things listed in the warrant.  If the police search for and find these things, they have the right to confiscate them.  Police cannot destroy things unnecessarily, and they can only search in places the warrant dictates the objects might be found, i.e. if they are looking for a stolen television they cannot look inside the drawer in your nightstand. Once they have found what they are looking for they must leave.

What is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant gives the police the power to enter a home and arrest the person whose name is on the warrant.  With this warrant police also have limited ability to search a home – if an arrest is made in a home, police generally have the right to search the immediate area.

Entering in Emergencies

The police are obliged to enter your house in the case of certain types of emergencies.  There are three special extenuated circumstances that allow police to enter your home on the grounds of an emergency.

  • Police can enter your home to follow someone who has just committed an offence, or if they believe the person in question is about to commit an offence.
  • Police can enter your home if they believe someone inside is about to hurt another person.
  • Police can enter your home to give emergency help to someone inside; i.e. if someone needs first aid.

Generally speaking, just because the police have the power to enter your home does not mean they have the power to search your home.  However, if there is evidence of a crime in plain sight or anything illegal in plain sight they have the power to seize it.

If you have a criminal record in Canada, obtaining a pardon can greatly help with the process of re-integrating into society.