Canadian Charter Rights On Police Trespassing

Do police officers have the authority to enter your home or backyard without permission, a warrant, or probable cause? In Canada, this is known as police trespassing, and it infringes on the rights that everyone is entitled to. 

Before we get into the finer details, let’s start by reviewing Section 9 of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It states that every person has “the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned”. In other words, it goes against the Canadian charter for police to trespass on personal property.

How does this pertain to police trespassing? We’re going to explain what constitutes unlawful trespassing, and what the ramifications might be in the court of law:

When Police Can Enter Your Home

Situations in which it’s acceptable for police to enter private property include:

  • When they have a search warrant. If police suspect that criminal activity is occurring at a private residence, they can seek to obtain a search warrant from a judge. This authorizes them to search the home and seize any pieces of evidence. 
  • When they have just cause to enter the property. The police may have received a tip from an authorized source. Or, they might have a justifiable reason to suspect that an individual is committing a crime. 
  • When the resident has given them permission. In some cases, the police may receive consent from the property owner to search the residence. 

If none of these conditions are met, the rights of the individual being searched could be infringed upon. But if police find incriminating evidence while trespassing, how might that affect a trial?

What Happens If Police Trespass On Your Property?

Police should be required to follow laws just as other citizens do, and that includes trespassing. According to the Canadian Charter, we are all entitled to privacy on private properties, such as the home we reside in.

Regardless of what police found at the property, the evidence may be disregarded due to how it was obtained. The court must consider the rights of the individual who owns that residence. 

For context, consider the ruling of R. v. Le in 2019. One evening, five young men were talking in the backyard of a home. Although no criminal activity was occurring, police entered the property without consent, a just cause, or a search warrant. They began searching the premises and the men in the yard. When one officer found firearms and drugs, one of the men (Le) was arrested.

What happened when the trial went to court? The judge noted that the accused’s rights were blatantly infringed upon. When the trial concluded, the judge ruled to exclude any evidence that the police collected, including firearms and drugs. The case was dismissed and Le was acquitted. 

What If Your Charter Rights Are Infringed Upon?

Hiring a defence lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected if you are accused of a criminal act. Looking for Winnipeg criminal lawyers? Matt Gould can help. He has years of experience in matters such as appeals, impaired driving charges, and more. Call today to schedule your free consultation.