What is a “Search Warrant” and How do The Police Obtain a Search Warrant?

Section 487 of the Criminal Code is the most commonly resorted to provision from which police can obtain a search warrant. Section 487 of the Criminal Code has existed since the beginning of time ― at least since the beginning of the Criminal Code in 1892. While it was amended periodically over the years, the core essence of Section 487 has remained unchanged. From the beginning, it required that before a warrant can be issued the police must have reasonable grounds to believe that there are, in a named location, things that would “afford evidence as to the commission” of an offence.

In its current formulation, Section 487(1)(b) of the Criminal Code:

requires that there exist reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been or is being committed and that there exists, in a specific location, “anything” that “will afford evidence with respect to the commission of an offence”.

Assuming these “reasonable grounds” criteria are met, a search warrant may be issued by a Justice of the Peace (“J.P.”) or a Judge that would permit the police to search a “building, receptacle or place for any such thing and to seize it”.
To summarize, Section 487(1) of the Criminal Code permits a JP or a Judge to authorize a search warrant based on the reasonable grounds explained by a police officer to the J.P. or Judge. If satisfied that there are reasonable grounds, then the J.P or Judge may order a “peace officer” to “search the building, receptacle or place for any such thing and to seize it”, and, “as soon as practicable, bring the thing seized before, or make a report in respect thereof to, the justice”

To obtain a search warrant, a police officer must present a J.P or a Judge with a document known as an Information to Obtain (also known as “ITO”). As stated, in that document, a police officer must demonstrate evidence that there are reasonable grounds to believe…that there exists in a particular place (building, receptacle etc.) anything that will afford evidence of a crime. The J.P or Judge, as a neutral arbiter, then decides whether to issue the search warrant based on the evidence in the ITO.

For example, various witnesses may have come to the police and advised them that they had witnessed numerous guns inside and outside a particular residence in their neighbourhood. The police could obtain statements from these witnesses, together with any investigative evidence the police may gather on their own (surveillance footage of the house etc.) and then documents this evidence in an ITO. A J.P. or Judge may or may not issue a search warrant based on the ITO.

At Neaman & Company, Noah Neaman has been counsel on countless “search warrant” criminal cases. He can review your search warrant and ITO for critical issues that may result in the “stay of proceedings” of your case either through a negotiated deal with the Crown or at trial.

Mr. Neaman would be happy to advise you if you have a case involving a search warrant. Call Noah Neaman at 778-881-1785 or visit his website at www.neaman.com for a free consultation.


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