CDSA Warrants

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General Principles

Section 11(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act concerns warrants relating to drug offences:

Information for search warrant
11. (1) A justice who, on ex parte application, is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds to believe that

(a) a controlled substance or precursor in respect of which this Act has been contravened,
(b) any thing in which a controlled substance or precursor referred to in paragraph (a) is contained or concealed,
(c) offence-related property, or
(d) any thing that will afford evidence in respect of an offence under this Act or an offence, in whole or in part in relation to a contravention of this Act, under section 354 or 462.31 of the Criminal Code

is in a place may, at any time, issue a warrant authorizing a peace officer, at any time, to search the place for any such controlled substance, precursor, property or thing and to seize it.
Application of section 487.1 of the Criminal Code
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an information may be submitted by telephone or other means of telecommunication in accordance with section 487.1 of the Criminal Code, with such modifications as the circumstances require.
Execution in another province
(3) A justice may, where a place referred to in subsection (1) is in a province other than that in which the justice has jurisdiction, issue the warrant referred to in that subsection and the warrant may be executed in the other province after it has been endorsed by a justice having jurisdiction in that other province.
Effect of endorsement
(4) An endorsement that is made on a warrant as provided for in subsection (3) is sufficient authority to any peace officer to whom it was originally directed and to all peace officers within the jurisdiction of the justice by whom it is endorsed to execute the warrant and to deal with the things seized in accordance with the law.
Search of person and seizure
(5) Where a peace officer who executes a warrant issued under subsection (1) has reasonable grounds to believe that any person found in the place set out in the warrant has on their person any controlled substance, precursor, property or thing set out in the warrant, the peace officer may search the person for the controlled substance, precursor, property or thing and seize it.

Seizure of things not specified
(6) A peace officer who executes a warrant issued under subsection (1) may seize, in addition to the things mentioned in the warrant,

(a) any controlled substance or precursor in respect of which the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds that this Act has been contravened;
(b) any thing that the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds to contain or conceal a controlled substance or precursor referred to in paragraph (a);
(c) any thing that the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds is offence-related property; or
(d) any thing that the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds will afford evidence in respect of an offence under this Act.

Where warrant not necessary
(7) A peace officer may exercise any of the powers described in subsection (1), (5) or (6) without a warrant if the conditions for obtaining a warrant exist but by reason of exigent circumstances it would be impracticable to obtain one.

Seizure of additional things
(8) A peace officer who executes a warrant issued under subsection (1) or exercises powers under subsection (5) or (7) may seize, in addition to the things mentioned in the warrant and in subsection (6), any thing that the peace officer believes on reasonable grounds has been obtained by or used in the commission of an offence or that will afford evidence in respect of an offence.

1996, c. 19, s. 11; 2005, c. 44, s. 13.


CDSA

Assistance and use of force
12. For the purpose of exercising any of the powers described in section 11, a peace officer may

(a) enlist such assistance as the officer deems necessary; and
(b) use as much force as is necessary in the circumstances.


CDSA

Sections 489.1 and 490 of the Criminal Code applicable
13. (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), sections 489.1 and 490 of the Criminal Code apply to any thing seized under this Act.
Sections 489.1 and 490 of the Criminal Code applicable
(2) Where a thing seized under this Act is offence-related property, sections 489.1 and 490 of the Criminal Code apply subject to sections 16 to 22 of this Act.
Provisions of this Act applicable
(3) Where a controlled substance is seized under this Act or any other Act of Parliament or pursuant to a power of seizure at common law, this Act and the regulations apply in respect of that substance.
Report to justice
(4) Subject to the regulations, every peace officer who, pursuant to section 11, seizes a controlled substance shall, as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances after the seizure,

(a) prepare a report identifying the place searched, the controlled substance and the location where it is being detained;
(b) cause the report to be filed with the justice who issued the warrant or another justice for the same territorial division or, where by reason of exigent circumstances a warrant was not issued, a justice who would have had jurisdiction to issue a warrant; and
(c) cause a copy of the report to be sent to the Minister.

Report to justice
(5) A report in Form 5.2 of the Criminal Code may be filed as a report for the purposes of subsection (4).

Recognizance
(6) Where, pursuant to this section, an order is made under paragraph 490(9)(c) of the Criminal Code for the return of any offence-related property seized under this Act, the judge or justice making the order may require the applicant for the order to enter into a recognizance before the judge or justice, with or without sureties, in such amount and with such conditions, if any, as the judge or justice directs and, where the judge or justice considers it appropriate, require the applicant to deposit with the judge or justice such sum of money or other valuable security as the judge or justice directs.


CDSA

A CDSA search warrant can be issued by a justice of the peace, provincial court judge or superior court judge.[1]

The requirements for a CDSA search warrant are the same as those under a 487 search warrant.[2]

Burden of Proof
The standard of "reasonable grounds to believe" is one that is lower than balance of probabilities.[3]

  1. R v Agecoutay, 2009 SKCA 100 (CanLII) at para 15
  2. R v Law, 2002 BCCA 594 (CanLII) at para 6
  3. R v Sadikov, 2014 ONCA 72 (CanLII) at para 81

Standard of Review

See also: Search Warrant Standard of Review

In a CDSA drug offence investigation into a residence, the same standard of review applies as Criminal Code search warrants. The test is specified as inquiring whether "there [was] material in the information from which the issuing judge, drawing reasonable inferences, could have concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that a controlled substance, something in which it was contained or concealed, offence related property or anything that would afford evidence of an offence under the CDSA" in the accused's residence.[1]

  1. R v Shiers, 2003 NSCA 138 (CanLII), [2003] NSJ No 453 (NSCA)