When Can Police Enter Your Home?

The ruling of R. v. Zargar, 2014 ONSC 1415 affirms that police cannot generally enter a person’s home without permission except under very limited circumstances. The case also establishes that a person can use a reasonable amount of physical force to remove a police officer who is trespassing on their private property.

The answer to this question turns on the longstanding common law precept concerning the “sanctity of the home” which states that there exists, “the longstanding right of a citizen of this country to the control and enjoyment of his own property, including the right to determine who shall and who shall not be permitted to invade it.”

The Court concluded that the police officer became a trespasser when he enter Mr. Zargar’s home without his permission and without bringing himself within one of the recognized exceptions to the “sanctity of the home” principle.  The judge ruled that “In the result, I am of opinion that the police officers were acting without authority in attempting to enter and search the appellant’s property and they were therefore trespassers.”

The police must, therefore, rely entirely upon a valid and unrevoked invitation to enter and remain in the house.  The law is quite clear on this and there is no need to refer to many cases.  Unless authorized by statute or the common law, a police officer may not enter the premises of another without that other’s permission and must leave if and when that permission is revoked.