Every Canadian has certain legal rights and protections afforded to them by law. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of these rights and protections. While no one ever wants the police to show up at their door uninvited, it does happen. When they do knock on your door, you will want to know what you legally can and cannot do.
- You do not have to answer your door. There is no legal requirement for you to answer the door. The police may enter your home under certain “exigent” circumstances or when they have a warrant to do so.
- You do not have to let the police in your home. If you do answer the door, the police will often ask if they can come in. Legally, unless they have a search warrant or specific grounds for entering the home, they cannot come in unless you invite them in.
- You do not have to answer any questions the police ask you. You have the legal right to remain silent and not answer any questions whatsoever. All you have to do is tell the officer you are exercising your legal right to remain silent.
- You do not have to accompany them to the police station for questioning. Unless they formally arrest you, you do not have to leave your home or go with them. They may tell you it is in your best interests to go with them, but you are under no legal obligation to do so.
- You have the right to consult with a criminal defence lawyer. Even if you have not been formally arrested and charged for a criminal offence, if you are detained, you always have the legal right to consult with your own lawyer at any time. And you could certainly consult with a lawyer while making the police wait outside your front door.
What Rights Do Police Have If I Let The Police Into My Home?
Once you invite the police in, things are a bit different. The police can do a visual inspection of anything that is in plain sight. However, without a warrant, they cannot start picking up items, opening drawers and closets, or searching under furniture.
If they do, then they are in violation of your rights. You still have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions. You can also request that the police leave your home at any time.
What If The Police Have a Warrant?
If the police have a search warrant, it is important to review it right away. The warrant will contain details about what property the police can search. For instance, it might say they can search a specific room in the home. If they start searching other rooms besides the one listed in the warrant, they are violating your rights. If the police have a warrant, the best course of action is to not interfere with their execution of that warrant. If they are acting outside the authority of the warrant, your lawyer can challenge this at a later state and attempt to get any evidence that the police seized, excluded from consideration at your trial.
The foregoing is not intended to, should not, and does not, constitute legal advice. This is a very specific area of law and should the police arrive at your door with or without a warrant and you have questions about your legal rights, or if you are arrested and charged with a criminal offence, please feel free to contact Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Brian Ross, immediately by calling (416) 658-5855!