Can Police Enter House Without a Warrant?

October 8, 2022

Enter House Without Warrant

In most cases police require a warrant to enter your house. However, police are allowed to enter your house, or enter private property, without a warrant in certain situations, such as when they have reason to believe that there is an life threatening emergency exists inside. There are also other very limited circumstances when police can enter your house without a signed warrant. If police are “in hot pursuit” of wanted person or suspect. Also, if a police officer honestly believes, on reasonable grounds, that they must enter to prevent immediate injury, harm or death. Finally, during exigent circumstances to protect life, provide emergency aid or stop the destruction or loss of evidence.

Police Can Enter During A Hot Pursuit

If the police are actively chasing or pursing someone, not just merely looking for them, that they have the right to arrest, they may also enter a home without a warrant or authorization to effect that arrest. For instance, if they were chasing a suspect from the scene of a crime and they observed that person entering a home, they would be allowed to pursue that person into the home without a warrant.

Arrest at Front Door
Police arrest a man after chase to his house. Police need to have a belief that a criminal law has been broken.

Protect Life or Prevent Serious Injury

A police officer may also enter your home if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary to prevent an offense from happening or continuing that would cause injury or to protect life and safety for a resident in potential danger. This includes:

  • to give emergency aid to someone inside
  • to protect life if they reasonably believe a life threatening emergency exists
  • to investigate safety of people after hearing a gunshot

Exigent Circumstances Allows Police Entry Without a Warrant

During exigent circumstances, police may enter private property to prevent someone from being seriously injured or killed, or to prevent the imminent destruction or loss of evidence.

Police can also enter under the following circumstances:

  • if they have a reasonable belief they must enter to protect a life
  • to protect their safety, officer safety reasons, or the safety of the public
  • depending on the circumstance, investigate a 911 telephone call
  • to help animals in immediate distress because of injury, illness, abuse, or neglect

When a Child’s Safety Is At Risk

The police have the power to enter and search private homes if its to protect children. Police officers need to have a reasonable belief that children require protection before entering. There needs to be a basis to think a child “needs protection” because they have been mistreated or neglected.

Enter Private Residence With Your Permission

Typically, an adult resident must grant permission for police to enter a home. They have the right to decline a police officer requests to enter without a warrant. It is important that residence makes it clearly if police are not welcome inside. If you allow a police officer to enter without a warrant, you can later change your decision and ask them to leave.

Police Knocking on Front Door
Police require permission to enter a private residence or must have a warrant.

Entry With a Warrant – Search Warrant or a Feeney Warrant

Search Warrant – Allows Police to Enter

When police enter a house without consent, it’s usually because they have a search warrant or an arrest warrant. A search warrant specifies a location that is allowed to be search during a specific period. The police must first advise a judge of the reasonable grounds they have to search a residence and what items them are looking for. If a judge is satisfied they will issue a search warrant that specifies the exact location to be searched and the time period when the search can be conducted. Police can enter and execute the search warrant without the consent of the residents.

Feeney Warrant – Allows Police to Enter

There is also a Feeney warrant which gives police power to enter your home, business or come onto your property to arrest a person that is named on a warrant. The Supreme Court ruled that the police should seek permission from a judge they attempt to enter private property.

Toronto Criminal Lawyer

Regardless of the reasons police come to your house, they are only entitled to enter your home without permission under the few circumstances enumerated above. It is important to understand what actions you are entitled to take in protecting your home and property in Canada, even against law enforcement. If police attempt to enter your home without a warrant be very clear that you do not consent nor are you giving them permission. Be polite but firm. For more legal information and legal advice in regard to these issues, or any other criminal matters contact the Toronto criminal law firm of William Jaksa today.

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