Hobson & Reeve

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Search & Seizure - Hobson & Reeve

Many drivers have had the nerve-wracking experience of being pulled over by a police officer. We know that the officer is going to want to see a driver’s license and registration. But what if the situation goes beyond that? Can the officer ask to see more? Can he or she search your car without a warrant? And what happens if the search turns up something incriminating?

Search and Seizure Law in Canada

Canadian law governs, and places important limits, on a police officer’s powers to search and seize a person’s property. The Charter Of Rights And Freedoms says that every citizen has the right to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure, and tries to provide a balance between the interests of the person in his or her privacy and possessions, which should not be invaded unless there are extenuating circumstances, and the interest of society in detecting and preventing criminal activity.

The Canadian courts recognize a number of search and seizure laws and powers. First, police have the power to search a person who has been lawfully arrested. More invasive types of searches, such as blood samples, are regulated by statute. Police can also search a person or property if consent is given; this consent must be validly obtained, real, and voluntary. The person being searched must be aware of their right to refuse the search, and the consequences of giving up that right. The common law also allows police to seize evidence that is in plain view.

Under the Criminal Code, police can search and seize property if they have a warrant. They may also be able to perform a search and seizure without a warrant, if the situation at hand would make it impractical to obtain one, as long as the criteria required to obtain a warrant are present and the police are acting within the course of their duties. The Code also grants police the power to seize items if they have reason to suspect that those items were obtained or used in the commission of a crime; such items may later become important evidence at a trial. Police can also conduct a warrantless search if they have reason to believe that incriminating evidence might be destroyed or removed while the police are waiting for a warrant. For example, in some drug cases, police are allowed to seize drug contraband without a warrant, before the wrongdoers have a chance to destroy evidence.

Hobson & Reeve Barristers

An experienced search and seizure attorney will be able to assess your case and determine if the police acted in accordance with the law. The right lawyer can help you protect your rights and present an effective defence when the time comes to go before a judge.

The lawyers of Hobson & Reeve have over 60 years of combined experience in criminal law, and have worked hard to establish a solid reputation as formidable opponents in court, as well as effective negotiators when it comes to plea bargains. David Hobson and Dennis Reeve both have served as Crown Attorneys as well as defence lawyers; this unique perspective enables them to protect their clients’ rights and craft the best defence on behalf of each client. They are committed to putting their years of experience to work for you. Their offices are located at 34 Eagle Street, Newmarket, Ontario, L3Y 1J1, or they can be reached by calling (866) 815-2745.