Last modified on 17 November 2012, at 16:54

Canadian Criminal Procedure and Practice/Search and Seizure/General Warrants

General PrinciplesEdit

Section 487(1) provides police with a general power to "use any device or investigative technique, or procedure" or otherwise do any thing described in the warrant which would constitute an unreasonable search or seizure.

The section states:

487.01(1) A provincial court judge…may issue a warrant in writing authorizing a peace officer to, subject to this section, use any device or investigative technique or procedure or do any thing described in the warrant that would, if not authorized, constitute an unreasonable search or seizure in respect of a person or a person’s property if

(a) the judge is satisfied by information on oath in writing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence against this or any other Act of Parliament has been or will be committed and that information concerning the offence will be obtained through the use of the technique, procedure or device or the doing of the thing;
(b) the judge is satisfied that it is in the best interests of the administration of justice to issue the warrant; and
(c) there is no other provision in this or any other Act of Parliament that would provide for a warrant, authorization or order permitting the technique, procedure or device to be used or the thing to be done.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall be construed as to permit interference with the bodily integrity of any person.

(3) A warrant issued under subsection (1) shall contain such terms and conditions as the judge considers advisable to ensure that any search or seizure authorized by the warrant is reasonable in the circumstances.

CCC

A warrant under this section requires:[1]

  1. reasonable and probable grounds that,
    1. offence has been or will be committed or
    2. information concerning the offence will be obtained; and,
  2. it is in the best interests of the administration of justice; and,
  3. there is no other statutory authority permitting peace officers to do this search or seizure
  1. see also R. v. Ha, 2009 ONCA 340

Purpose of SearchEdit

A general warrant can only be used to seize tangible objects. This means that intangibles, such as money, are not applicable.[1]

Such a warrant however cannot be used to search a person or seize anything on a person.

Finger prints cannot be taken with a 486 warrant.[2]

A bullet found inside an accused person cannot be included.[3]

  1. R v Bank du Royal Du Canada (1985) 18 C.C.C. (3d) 44
  2. R. c. Bourque, 1995 CanLII 4764 (QC CA)
  3. R v Laporte (1972) 8 C.C.C. (2d) 343

Manner of SearchEdit

A 487 warrant may authorize an "covert" search. [1]


Video surveillanceEdit

A warrant is only needed when video surveillance is set-up in such a way that it collects information for which there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. So a camera in a public place such as a street does not need a warrant,[2] but a camera filming the inside of a dwelling would need one.

A video camera requires a warrant where filming:

  • a hotel room [3]
  • a washroom stall [4]
  1. R. v. Ha, 2009 ONCA 340
  2. R. v. Esfahanian Ershad, 1991 CanLII 281 (BC SC)
    R. v. Bryntwick, 2002 CanLII 10941 (ON SC)
  3. R. v. Wong, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 36
  4. R v Silva, 1995 CanLII 7242 (ON SC)

Lawyer's OfficeEdit

When searching a lawyer's office, the police have a duty to minimize which requires:[1]

  1. that a search not be authorized unless there is no other reasonable solution and,
  2. that the authorization be given in terms that, to the extent possible, limit the impairment of solicitor-client privilege