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Your Home is Your Castle: Can Police Enter It Without Your Permission?

Recently, a Toronto police officer was reminded about the old adage that a man’s home is his castle, and a defendant was reminded that challenging the propriety of police conduct can result in a conviction being thrown out.

As reported in the “The Globe and Mail”, an Ontario Superior Court judge found that two police officers were trespassing when they entered a downtown condominium to investigate a noise complaint and refused to leave. As such, the judge threw out the trial court’s conviction of the owner on a charge of assaulting a police officer.

When the officers asked the condo owner for identification, the owner refused and the officers stayed in the condo. The officers stated that they believed that they had the right to stay in the residence because of the owner’s failure to provide the requested documentation.

Citing “the long-standing common law precept concerning the sanctity of the home,” the Superior Court judge very much disagreed with the officers understanding of the law: “The courts have repeatedly held that there is no power to enter a dwelling, simply for purposes of furthering an investigation.”

All Canadians should have an understanding of their rights in their own home. While the police have the right to come to your home, with some important exceptions you are within your rights to both respectfully refuse them entry and refuse to answer their questions.

The exceptions referred to above include situations where:

  • The police have a warrant to enter your home to arrest someone
  • The police have a search warrant
  • The police have permission from you or someone else in authority in your home
  • There are “urgent circumstances” that require the police to enter your home.

“Urgent circumstances” that would legally justify an officer’s non-consensual entry into a home include:

  • A 911 call has been made from your home, and the police believe that entry is necessary to prevent death or serious injury.
  • Where the police believe that someone in the home is in need of emergency services.
  • To help someone who has reported a domestic assault to safely remove their belongings.
  • To protect people from injury if the police suspect that there is a drug laboratory in the home.
  • Where the police are in “hot pursuit” of a suspected offender

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a criminal offence as a result of an incident or police action inside your home, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can evaluate whether the police have violated your rights and whether their conduct could be the basis for excluding any evidence obtained while they were in your home or for having the charges thrown out altogether.

Since 1996, the law firm of Mitch Engel, Barrister & Solicitor has been providing clients throughout the Oshawa, Brampton, and Mississauga areas with top-level criminal defence representation. Mitch Engel understands what acceptable police conduct is and will fight to protect you against actions that violate your rights.  With an exclusive focus on criminal defence, he has keen insight into successful defence strategies and is passionate about helping his clients achieve the best possible resolution to their matters. Call Mitch Engel at (866) 761-7077to get the legal advice you need to reclaim your life. 

The materials provided on this site are for information purposes only. These materials constitute general information relating to areas of law familiar to our firm lawyers. They do NOT constitute legal advice or other professional advice and you may not rely on the contents of this website as such.