What are my rights if the police have a search warrant?

3. Ask if you’re free to leave

When they have a , police are allowed to control the building and everyone in it while they decide what to do next. The police are allowed to restrain anyone on the property as much as they need to in order to complete the search allowed by the .

The police aren’t allowed to deny your basic dignity while searching your home or business. If you need to use the bathroom, or want food and water, politely tell the police.

While they conduct their search, the police will often:

  • handcuff you and other people found at the address
  • not allow you to leave even though you haven’t been

This is called securing the property. Once the property has been secured, you should be free to leave.

What to say

If you don’t know whether you’re free to leave, ask. Say, “Am I free to leave?” If the police say you aren’t free to leave, ask if you’re under . Say, “Am I under arrest?”

Your rights

You have the right to leave the property unless you’re being or arrested by the police.

If you haven’t been arrested but aren’t being allowed to leave, you’re being detained. You have the right to be told why you’re being detained.  

Talk to a lawyer

You have the right to talk to a lawyer when you’re being detained or arrested. The police must tell you that you have this right. If you tell the police you want to talk to a lawyer, the police must allow you to contact a lawyer. You must be allowed to talk to the lawyer in private.

Services while in custody

If you need to talk to a lawyer while you’re in , the police must tell you about the Brydges duty counsel service. This is a service provided by Legal Aid Ontario. It gives free legal advice to anyone in Ontario who is detained or arrested. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service is available in English, French, and any other language through an interpreter.

Tell the police officer that you want to talk to if you don’t have your own criminal lawyer. The officer should call the hotline for you and let you speak with duty counsel in private. If duty counsel is not available, the officer can leave a message and duty counsel should call you back within 30 minutes.

Right to remain silent

You have the right to remain silent. In most situations, you don’t have to answer any questions the police ask you. Anything you say to the police may be used as .

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