Search Warrant Guidelines
Right to Counsel: Officials conducting a search can secure an unstable situation before letting any individual in custody exercise their right to legal representation.
"Thing" to be Searched for: A search warrant can only apply for the seizure of physical items like electronic devices, vehicles, blood samples, DNA on bandages, fingerprints, clothing items, and foreign objects within a person. Non-material entities like money aren't relevant.
Time: Unless expressly stated in the warrant, all permissions indirectly demand that the warrant be enacted 'within a reasonable period after its issue', often on the same day of issuance. An extended execution period, spread over several days, isn't deemed inappropriate.
Location: Typically, a search warrant for a 'location' allows for the inspection of specified areas and receptacles within that vicinity.
Motor Vehicles: Depending on the circumstances, a motor vehicle can either be the subject of the search or the venue to be searched. If it's the subject, law enforcement can take and scrutinize it as necessary. If it's the search location, it must be returned to the owner immediately after the search is done.
Electronic Devices: A warrant allowing a home search doesn't extend to the investigation of digital devices located in the home. To search these devices, separate authorization is required, either through another warrant or a specific provision in the home search warrant.
Implementation of Search Warrants
"Fellow Officer test": A search warrant should precisely indicate its breadth in the main content without referencing the Information To Obtain (ITO). It should pass the 'fellow officer' rule, meaning another officer should comprehend the items under search and the search location merely by reviewing the warrant itself.
Supplying a Copy of Warrant: Law enforcement must provide a copy of the search warrant and a Form 5.1 to the person “seemingly in charge” of the search location. If no one is available, the two documents should be placed in a noticeable place.
Single Entry and Exit Rule: A search warrant allows for a single-time entry into the specified venue. Once inside, the stay duration can be prolonged.
Search Duration: Once officers enter a venue within the warrant-specified timeframe, the warrant remains valid until the officers complete their search and exit. The officers can stay on site beyond the initially authorized timeframe to conclude the search.
However, after completing the search, officers must vacate immediately. If they need to revisit, they would require new permission.
Officer Safety: During a search warrant's execution, police officers can conduct non-specifically authorized searches if these are necessary for their safety.
Use of Masks During Search: Officers wearing masks during a search doesn't render the search unreasonable or unjust.
Residual Search Powers During Search Execution
An officer can inspect an outbuilding within the residential property under search as part of a 'security check.' Yet, an officer cannot search any individual located at the residence without specific grounds.
Also, police cannot detain a person merely for being inside a suspected drug house. According to Section 11(5) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), a search can be conducted if the officer believes the person has drug-related property.
Whenever an officer seizes evidence, barring records or documents, either via a search warrant or during a search incident, they must submit an initial Report To Justice per Section 489.1. This is required even if no immediate plans to press charges exist.
If the seized property must be retained beyond 30 days without filing any charges, the officer must also seek a Detention Order from a justice or judge.
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