When Can Police Do a Pat Down Search?

If you are stopped by police on the street, it’s important to know your rights. The police don’t always inform people of their rights under the law, causing many people to consent to unreasonable searches. At Engel & Associates, we believe everyone should understand their rights.

Types of Searches

Generally, the police have legal authority to perform a search of your person if they have placed you under arrest. They can also search you if you consent to the search.

Although you never have to consent to a police search, it is advisable to cooperate with a search once the police begin searching you. If you become belligerent or physical with the police, they are much more likely to charge you with a criminal offence. If you believe the search was unlawful, contact a criminal defence lawyer right away, as an illegal police search could invalidate the charges against you.

The police can also perform a search if they have a reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity. For example, they may search you if they pull you over for driving erratically and then smell a strong odour of alcohol in your car and on your breath. They also have authority to search you if they find you in a location surrounded by drugs or drug paraphernalia. If they have a reasonable suspicion that you have drugs on your person, they can perform a search.

Finally, the police can perform a pat down search if they have a legitimate reason to believe you possess a weapon. This rule exists to preserve the safety of the public and the police. The police can perform a pat down search in cases where they have a reasonable suspicion that an individual has committed or is connected to a crime and police have detained the person to perform an investigation based on their reasonable suspicion. In these situations, police must restrict the search to a pat down that checks for weapons.

Ottawa, Ontario Criminal Defence

Criminal defence lawyers Bruce Engel and Elena Davies have represented individuals and businesses charged with hundreds of different offences throughout Canada for more than two decades. From the start of a criminal investigation to the close of a trial, we will take a balanced and forceful approach to your defence. We have the experience and know-how to effectively navigate the constantly changing justice system in Canada.

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Engel & Associates
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