When Can the Police Enter My Home?

Hearing a loud knock and “police, open up!” on your door can be a terrifying experience. In a moment of panic, many people assume they have no choice but to allow the authorities into their home.

Whether you’re at home, driving, or just walking down the street, it’s important to thoroughly understand your rights if you are approached or detained by the police.

Three Ways Police Can Enter Your Home

If the police knock on your door, there are only three ways they can legitimately enter:

  • They have a valid arrest warrant for someone in the home
  • They have a valid search warrant
  • Someone in the home gives them permission to enter

Although you can give the police permission to come inside, you have no legal obligation to allow them inside unless they have a valid arrest or search warrant. It’s also important to note that any warrant must be valid. Warrants issued based on inaccurate or false information are invalid, however, this is an issue that is almost always raised in court after the police have executed the warrant.

Emergency Situations

In some instances, the police can enter a home if an emergency demands it. For example, the police can enter in cases where an individual has called 911 from inside the home. If the police are responding to this type of emergency call, they can enter to provide assistance.

The police can also enter a home in pursuit of evidence that may be lost or destroyed unless it is retrieved right away. If, for example, police have a reasonable suspicion that someone is engaged in drug-related activity within the home, the police can enter the home to preserve any evidence related to the drug offence.

Police can also enter a home if they are in “hot pursuit” of a fleeing criminal suspect. A common example involves police chasing an individual who has fled the scene of a crime. If the suspect runs into a home or onto private property, the police can pursue the suspect without a warrant or the home owner’s permission.

Child welfare laws also give police the right to enter a home to remove children who are being abused or neglected.

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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