If the Police Show Up At Your Door Do You Know Your Legal Rights?

PUBLISHED ON February 19, 2019

Toronto criminal defence lawyer

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!


A criminal record can have lifelong ramifications. Don't take a chance with an inexperienced attorney. I will fight to get your life back as I have done with countless others before you.

(416) 658-5855

Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

Nominated in 2023 for the Best Lawyers Award in Criminal Law

Candidates who are nominated for consideration are voted on by currently recognized lawyers working in the same practice area and located in the same geographic region. Our awards and recognitions are based purely on the feedback we receive from these top lawyers.


Mr. Ross is a member of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association and Legal Aid Ontario’s “Extremely Serious Matters” Panel, consisting of criminal lawyers deemed to have the proven experience necessary to conduct trials in the most serious of criminal matters.


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