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

4. Let the police do their search

While they’re searching, the police are allowed to:

  • move furniture
  • empty the contents of drawers
  • go through your belongings

The police don’t have to put things back where they were before they searched.

A doesn’t generally give police the power to search you or other people on the property.

But the police do have the power to search you and other people on the property if:

  • you’ve been
  • they have to believe you have related to the warrant
  • they believe it’s reasonably necessary in order to protect the safety of police officers or the public

If the police believe you’re a threat to the safety of their officers, they can pat you with their hands to search for weapons. This is called a protective pat-down search. They aren’t allowed to empty your pockets, purse, or other type of bag. They are only allowed to frisk you to find and take away weapons.

Your rights

You don’t have to help the police find what they’re looking for. You have a right to remain silent.

You shouldn’t agree to let the police expand their search beyond the specific area, objects, and documents listed in the search warrant. The search warrantexplains what the police are looking for and where they can look.

The police are allowed to take the items listed in the search warrant. They’re also allowed to take items that you’re not legally allowed to have. For example, they can seize illegal drugs or property that may be evidence of a criminal offence.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. This means that the police must conduct the search in a reasonable manner. They aren’t allowed to destroy your property for no reason. If the police do their search in a way that is not reasonable, a court may later decide that the evidence they found through the unreasonable search can’t be used against you.

If the police use more force than you think they should or they damage your property for no reason, you can make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).

You can also sue the police for using too much force and damaging your property.

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