A search warrant is an order signed by a judge that allows the police to search for specific items in a specific location. In most cases, a search warrant is used to search a home, business or vehicle in order to seize suspected contraband, evidence of a crime, or both. Canadian citizens have certain protections against unreasonable search and seizure pursuant to Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the legal principles concerning search warrant requirements are complex and constantly evolving. The criminal defence lawyers at Cugelman & Eisen have extensive knowledge of this nuanced area of the law and regularly assist clients with search and seizure issues which can be critical aspects of mounting an effective defence.
Generally, a search warrant is necessary whenever a search will intrude on a person’s privacy or property. A warrant gives police the right to search a given area, at a given time, for items that have been approved by a judge. In cases where a warrant is sought, the police must present the judge with “reasonable and probable grounds” that an offence has been committed and that evidence of the offence will be found in the place for which the warrant is sought. Again, this can lead to complex and evolving legal issues. There are also situations where, assuming reasonable and probable grounds exist, a search may legally be undertaken by the police without the necessity of a search warrant; to ensure safety for law enforcement and civilians, to prevent the immediate destruction of evidence, and in any case where evidence or contraband is in plain view. In addition, a person may be searched as a part of the process of a lawful arrest. There are also specific principles governing when a police officer may search a car that has been legally stopped. A search warrant may also be unnecessary if an individual grants police permission to search their person or their property.
Evidence seized by police during a valid search will generally be admissible in a court of law, absent a challenge to the search as a violation of Section 8 of the Charter of Rights. If the search is challenged by the defence and the trial judge is satisfied that the grounds to obtain the warrant for the search were unreasonable, the police failed to act in compliance with the terms of the warrant, or the police failed to obtain a warrant in a situation where one was required, or if there were not reasonable grounds for the police to conduct a warrantless search, then the Court will rule that the defendant’s Charter Rights have been violated. However, unlike American TV crime shows, in Canada, when a judge rules that a defendant’s rights under the Charter of Rights have been violated, the judge then undertakes a further analysis as to whether in the circumstances of the particular case before her or him, the evidence seized should be excluded from the trial, or should nevertheless be held to be admissible in evidence. Needless to say, the law of search and seizure in Canada is extremely complex, and as such is almost impossible for the lay person to navigate without the assistance of a lawyer.
If you have been charged with a crime or are under investigation for criminal activity in which a search and seizure is involved, a criminal defence lawyer will be essential to assist you in properly defending yourself. At Cugelman & Eisen, our experienced lawyers will assess all of the evidence involved in your case to determine whether it was obtained through proper procedures, or whether your constitutional rights have been violated. We may be able to successfully ensure that all or some of the evidence in your case is thrown out. We are well-versed in this complex area of law, and we can protect your rights, formulate and execute the most effective defence strategy, and seek the best possible resolution to your unique case. Don’t delay; consult with us today.
The legal team at Cugelman & Eisen has more than 60 years of combined experience in criminal defence, having prepared and argued cases successfully at all levels of the Ontario court system. They have built their practice on hard work, clear communication with clients, and an unwavering dedication to excellence in the field of criminal defence; today, Cugelman & Eisen is one of the most highly regarded law firms in the Barrie area. They work in all areas of criminal defence and handle all types of cases, including impaired driving, domestic and sexual assault, property offences, and more. Bernard Cugelman and Mitchell Eisen stay abreast of the latest developments in Canadian criminal law, which allows them to provide the most effective defence for every client. They can assist you through every phase of your criminal case, from police investigations, bail, and pre-trial hearings to trials, plea negotiations, and appeals. The law offices of Cugelman & Eisen are located at 89 Collier St. Suite 100, Barrie, Ontario L4M 1H2, or they can be reached by calling (705) 721-1888.