Police powers and duties

Entry Into a Home

Entry Into a Home

This page has been written for the purposes of legal education. Its purpose is to present in a general and simplified manner the law in force in Quebec concerning police powers and duties, your obligations as citizens and advice when you consider that a police officer enters a home when he is not entitled to do so. Its content should therefore not be construed as legal advice or advice. To find out the specific rules or advice appropriate to your situation, consult a lawyer.

 

The Police Power to Enter a Home

Sometimes the police have to enter a home in order to accomplish their mission of protecting the population. This is particularly the case when it must arrest a person who has committed an offence, when it must put an end to an offense in progress or an emergency situation which poses immediate risks to the health or safety of others, or when it has to carry out a search as part of an investigation. However, this power can only be exercised under certain conditions.

 

Arrest of a Person Who Has Committed an Offense

With a Warrant

Usually, arrests without a warrant in a house are prohibited. Therefore, police officers who want to arrest a person in a house must have an entry warrant or an arrest warrant that includes authorization to enter. In general, a police officer has the power to enter your residence to make an arrest when they have judicial authorization to do so.

Without an Arrest Warrant

The three prerequisites for an emergency entry into a house to arrest a person are:

  • the presence of reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested is there;
  • the fact that the conditions for obtaining a mandate are met;
  • an emergency that makes it difficult to obtain the warrant.

On the other hand, if the police have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed an offence, that the person flees to their home and that the police are obliged to pursue them, they will be justified in entering without a warrant home to arrest that person.

A police officer could also seek the consent of the suspect or the lawful owner of the premises to enter. If the police officer asks for the consent of the lawful owner of the premises in the house who is not the suspect, the police officer must notify this person that he wants to arrest the suspect. He must then specify the reason for the arrest and that, failing that, he will obtain an entry warrant, keep watch while waiting for it to be issued and use force if necessary. If the police officer asks the suspect for consent, they must also advise them that they are not obliged to follow them and that they can consult a lawyer before following them.

 

Putting an End to an Ongoing Offense or Emergency

With a Warrant

A police officer must first obtain the necessary judicial authorization to enter if they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offense is in progress in a residence, but that there is no urgency to act.

Without a Warrant

Sometimes the police have reasonable grounds to believe that an offense is in progress and that it is urgent to put an end to it. Considering that the police do not have time to request an entry warrant and that one would have been issued otherwise, the police could legitimately enter the targeted residence to put an end to an offence, in certain situations including the following :

  • A 911 call was made from a home and the officer has reason to believe an entry is necessary to prevent a death or serious injury.
  • A police officer has reason to believe that someone in the home needs emergency care.
  • A policeman must protect people from possible injuries.
  • A police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that evidence relating to the commission of a crime is in the house and that the urgency justifies entry to prevent its destruction or loss.
  • A police officer could also seek the consent of the suspect or the lawful owner of the premises to allow him to enter the home without a warrant. 

 

Carrying Out a Search or an Investigation

With a Warrant

The police can enter a home if they have a search warrant targeting that home as part of an investigation.

Without a Warrant

The police could only enter a home without a warrant to conduct an investigation if there is urgency to act, that is, when the police have reasonable grounds to believe that an offense is in progress and that it is urgent to put an end to it, for safety reasons.

 

Other Conditions of Entry

Whether or not the police have a warrant, they must also announce themselves before entering the residence, unless they have reasonable grounds:

  • To suspect that giving notice would expose them or a third party to bodily harm or death;
  • Believing that giving notice would result in the imminent loss or destruction of evidence relating to the commission of a criminal act.

That said, except in an emergency, a police officer should always give notice of their presence by knocking or ringing the doorbell, identify themselves as a police officer and inform the occupant of the legitimate and true purpose of their visit.

 


 

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