Information to Obtain a Judicial Authorization

From Criminal Law Notebook
This page was last substantively updated or reviewed October 2022. (Rev. # 89928)

General Principles

The affiant police officer's role is to provide a "factual foundation" to justify the issuing of a warrant.[1] The officer has an obligation "to make full and frank disclosure of material facts, avoid boiler plate language and, whenever possible, obtain an affidavit directly from those with firsthand knowledge."[2] A failure in these duties does not necessarily invalidate the warrant.[3]

The authorizing justice's job is to "determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the articles in question will afford evidence with respect to the offence". This suggests only that the evidence "which would be relevant to the issue, and would be properly tendered as evidence in a prosecution" of the offence.[4]

The need for a judicial authorization aims to prevent unreasonable searches. A judicial officer may independently weigh the conflicting interests of the private individual and the state's interest to investigate.[5]

Establishing "credibly based probability" in an ITO requires it include:[6]

  1. sworn evidence sufficient to establish reasonable grounds for believing the offence had been committed, that the things to be searched for will afford evidence and that the things in question will be found at a specked place[7]
  2. that it as a whole must be considered and peace officers, who generally will prepare these documents without legal assistance, should not be held to the “specificity and legal precision expected of pleadings at the trial stage."[8]
  3. the affiant’s reasonable belief does not have to be based on personal knowledge, but the Information to obtain must, in the totality of circumstances, disclose a substantial basis for the existence of the affiant’s belief[9]

It is not necessary that the police demonstrate that the evidence sought will be sufficient to prove the offence.[10]

  1. R v Knight, 2008 NLCA 67 (CanLII), 241 CCC (3d) 353, per Welsh JA leave refused, at para 32 ("It is the role of the police submitting the Affidavit to provide the factual foundation for issuance of the warrant")
  2. R v Fan, 2013 BCSC 445 (CanLII), per Brown J, at para 15 citing R v Araujo, 2000 SCC 65 (CanLII), [2000] 2 SCR 992, per LeBel J (9:0), at paras 46 to 49
  3. See Judicial Authorization Standard of Review
  4. R v Worrall, 1964 CanLII 161 (ON CA), 2 CCC 1, per Porter CJ
  5. Fan, supra, at para 14 ("The process of prior authorization ... provides an opportunity to assess and weigh the conflicting interests of the state and the individual in order to ensure that an individual’s right to privacy is breached only when the interests of the state are demonstrably superior.")
  6. R v Morris, 1998 CanLII 1344 (NSCA), 173 NSR (2d) 1 (CA), per Cromwell JA (3:0), at para 31br>
  7. Sanchez, supra, at p. 365
  8. Sanchez, supra, at p. 364
  9. R v Yorke, 1992 CanLII 2521 (NSCA), 115 NSR (2d) 426 (CA), per Roscoe JA (3:0) affd 1993 CanLII 83 (SCC), [1993] 3 SCR 647, per La Forest J (4:1)
  10. R v TK, 2013 MBQB 114 (CanLII), per Menzies J, at para 11
    Worrall, supra

Basic Elements

The four key elements of an ITO should include:[1]

  1. the place to be searched;
  2. the items to be searched for;
  3. what offences these items are evidence of; and
  4. the time period in which the search is to occur.

A list of requirements of an ITO should include facts establishing grounds of belief for:[2]

  • the existence of thing to be searched for;
  • the location of the thing to be searched for;
  • the location of search is a building, receptacle or place;
  • the building, receptacle or place is present at location;
  • the offence alleged has been (or suspected of being) committed as described; and
  • the thing to be searched for affords evidence of the commission of the offence or possession of the thing is an offence itself.

The evidence within the ITO must permit the officer to form reasonable and probable grounds. The affiant must specify their reasonable grounds within the ITO.

The document should be reliable, balanced and material. It should also be clear, concise, legally and factually sufficient, but it need not include “every minute detail of the police investigation”. [3]

The ITO must specify a particular offence that is being investigated.[4] As well, it must not simply include "conclusory" statements but rather the factual grounds for the conclusions.[5] A conclusory statement is "where an affiant states their belief but none of the underlying facts, thereby preventing an objective assessment of the affiant’s belief."[6]

Facial Validity

The date, place and time of the authorization must be present on the warrant to be valid.[7]

An unsigned affidavit supporting a wiretap warrant is not necessarily fatal to the application.[8]

Drafting Quality

Given that ITOs are drafted by police officer typically before all the evidence is known or without legal advice, the ITO need not have the level of quality of pleadings.[9] Officer’s generally speaking are not held to the same drafting quality as counsel.[10]

An ITO should be written and read in a practical, non-technical, common-sense fashion.[11]

The use of boilerplate or conclusory language may render the ITO insufficient.[12]

Inquiry by Justice

A justice has no obligation to make inquiry of the affiant into the grounds of his belief.[13]

Organization and Length

An issuing judge or justice is entitled to reject an ITO on the basis of it being too lengthy and disorganized.[14] However, as a reviewing judge, there is no rule against lengthy ITOs or simply poorly drafted ITOs. The test should always come back to the question of whether it contains sufficient grounds [15]

Standard of Proof

The standard of proof to establish reasonable grounds or "reasonable belief" in support of a search warrant is one of "reasonable probability."[16]

  1. R v Richards, 2019 ONSC 3306 (CanLII), per Ducharme J, at para 14
  2. R v Chhan, 1996 CanLII 7025 (SK QB), 142 Sask R 232, per Laing J - lists 5 requirements
    R v Turcotte, 1987 CanLII 984 (SK CA), 39 CCC (3d) 193, per Vancise JA, at p. 14
    R v Adams, 2004 CanLII 12093 (NL PC), NJ No 105, per Gorman J, at para 24
  3. CBC v A-G for New Brunswick, 1991 CanLII 50 (SCC), 67 CCC (3d) 544, per Cory J (6:1), at p. 562
    R v Araujo, 2000 SCC 65 (CanLII), [2000] 2 SCR 992, per LeBel J (9:0), at p. 470
    R v Ling, 2009 BCCA 70 (CanLII), 241 CCC (3d) 409, per Bauman JA, at para 43 (leave to appeal refused, [2009] SCCA No 165)
  4. R v Dombrowski, 1985 CanLII 182 (SK CA), 18 CCC 164, per curiam
  5. R v Stockton Financial Services Co, 1990 CanLII 10950 (MB CA), (1990) 60 CCC 527 (Man CA), per Huband JA and Lyon JA
    R v Harris, 1987 CanLII 181 (ON CA), 35 CCC (3d) 1, per Martin JA
  6. R v Pilkington (No. 1), 2013 MBQB 79 (CanLII), 290 Man R (2d) 109, per Mainella J, at para 54
  7. see 487.1
    related R v Steeves, 2002 BCSC 551 (CanLII), 54 WCB (2d) 96, per Chamberlist J, at paras 57 to 62
  8. R v Dixon, 2012 ONSC 181 (CanLII), per Taliano J
  9. R v Sanchez, 1994 CanLII 5271 (ONSC), [1994] OJ No 2260 (SCJ), per Hill J, at para 20
  10. Re Lubell and the Queen, 1973 CanLII 1488 (ONSC), 11 CCC (2d) 188 (Ont. H.C.), per Zuber J, at p. 190
    R v Durling, 2006 NSCA 124 (CanLII), 214 CCC (3d) 49, per MacDonald CJ, at para 19
    Sanchez, supra, at p. 364
    Re Chapman and the Queen, 1983 CanLII 3587 (ON SC), 6 CCC (3d) 296, per Reid J, at p. 297
    Re Times Square Book Store and R., 1985 CanLII 170 (ON CA), 17 CRR 180, 21 CCC (3d) 503, per Cory JA ("However, the warrant (and I infer from the heading immediately preceding this quote that he is also speaking of the information in support) need not be drafted with legal precision as it is an instrument for the investigation of crime. A reasonable latitude must be granted when considering its wording.")
  11. R v Whitaker, 2008 BCCA 174 (CanLII), 254 BCAC 234, per Frankel JA (3:0), at paras 41 to 42
  12. e.g. Harris, supra, at pp. 13-16
    R v Church of Scientology and the Queen (No.6), 1987 CanLII 122 (ON CA), 31 CCC (3d) 449, per curiam, at p. 500
  13. R v Donaldson, 1990 CanLII 630 (BC CA), 58 CCC (3d) 294, per Hinkson JA (3:0)
  14. Re Criminal Code, [1997] OJ No 4393 (Gen. Div.)(*no CanLII links) , at paras 9 to 11
  15. R v Rafferty, 2012 ONSC 703 (CanLII), OJ No 2132, per Heeney J , at para 34
  16. R v Debot, 1989 CanLII 13 (SCC), [1989] 2 SCR 1140, per Wilson J, at p. 1166


It is not necessary that the officer spell out all possible reasons that they want to rely upon for seizing certain evidence. A judge may infer the reasons based on the evidence given in the ITO.[1]

A Justice is entitled to draw reasonable inferences from the ITO.[2]

  1. R v Vu, 2013 SCC 60 (CanLII), [2013] 3 SCR 657, per Cromwell J (9:0), at paras 13 to 16
  2. See R v Durling, 2006 NSCA 124 (CanLII), 214 CCC (3d) 49, per MacDonald CJ, at paras 27 to 28
    Vu, supra, at para 16

Full, Frank and Fair Disclosure

Standard for ITO Disclosure

The affiant must make "full, frank and fair" disclosure of all information known to the officer relevant to the matter before the authorizing justice.[1] This obligation arises due to the ex parte nature of the application.[2] There is a hightened risk of the court's powers being misused.[3]

This principle applies to all warrants, including wiretaps.[4]

The police must give full and frank disclosure so that the authorizing justice can decide in a "neutral and impartial manner."[5]

Consequence of Failure to be FF&F

A failure to satisfy the affiant's duty to be full, fair and frank in its disclosure in the ITO may be a breach of s. 8 of the Charter.[6]

A flagrant, deliberate, or wilfully blind failure to make full and complete disclosure can be fatal to the warrant.[7]

Breadth of FF&F Standard

In any ex parte application process, the applicant must disclose "material facts" that may affect the outcome of the application.[8] The ITO does not need to state every step a police officer takes in obtaining information.[9]

This does not require disclosing every fact that might possibly be relevant.[10] It should only be those that are "material facts."[11]

It is also generally not necessary to include in the ITO the absence of any other potentially relevant observations.[12]

Full and frank disclosure requires that the officer include "what the police believe they can prove at the time of the warrant." It does not include the requirement to reveal "all of their suspicions about the accused."[13]

Affiant Discretion

The affiant must exercise some discretion and judgement to decide what is most important to include in the ITO and what to leave out.[14]

Good Faith

Lack of good faith in the contents of the ITO may invalidate it.[15]

Inappropriate Content

The ITO cannot rely on "broad generalizations about loosely defined classes of people". It would invite reliance on "stereotypes and prejudices" instead of evidence.[16]

The ITO must be sure to disclose any "prior association or personal connection" between the informer and the target of the search.[17]


The justice is entitled to draw reasonable inference from the facts set out in the ITO.[18] It is not necessary that the affiant spell out all inferences they are relying upon.[19]

Experience of Officer

The officer's experience is relevant to the investigative narrative.[20] Training and experience permits an officer to draw inferences and make deductions not otherwise available to a lay person.[21]

  1. R v Moore, 1993 CanLII 17 , per Toy JA aff'd on appeal
    R v Brown, 2008 ABQB 663 (CanLII), 451 AR 1, per Germain J, at paras 50, 64
    R v Kensington Income Tax, [1917] 1 K.B. 486 (CA)(*no CanLII links)
    Re Church of Scientology and The Queen (No. 6), 1987 CanLII 122 (ON CA), 31 CCC (3d) 449, per curiam
    United States of America v Friedland, 1996 CanLII 8213 (ONSC), [1996] OJ No 4399 (Gen. Div.), per Sharpe J, at paras 26 to 29
    R v Araujo, 2000 SCC 65 (CanLII), [2000] 2 SCR 992, per Fish J (9:0), at para 46
    R v Nguyen, 2011 ONCA 465 (CanLII), 273 CCC (3d) 37, per Blair JA (3:0), at para 48
  2. Araujo, supra, at paras 46 to 47
  3. R v Liew, 2012 ONSC 1826 (CanLII), per Boswell J, at paras 158 to 159
  4. R v Ling, 2009 BCCA 70 (CanLII), 241 CCC (3d) 409, per Bauman JA, at paras 31 to 32
  5. Ling, ibid., at para 40
  6. R v Rocha, 2012 ONCA 707 (CanLII), 292 CCC (3d) 325, per Rosenberg JA
    R v White, 2017 ONSC 5647 (CanLII), per De Sa J, at para 33
  7. R v Duncan (W.), 2004 MBCA 64 (CanLII), 188 CCC (3d) 17, per Monnin JA (2:1), at para 32
  8. R v Montgomery, 2016 BCCA 379 (CanLII), 341 CCC (3d) 147, per Frankel JA, at para 98
    Evans v Umbrella Capital LLC, 2004 BCCA 149 (CanLII), 237 DLR (4th) 106, per Donald JA, at para 33 ("A material fact is one that may or might affect the outcome of an application:... . It is for the court to decide what is a material fact..")
  9. R v Sanchez, 1994 CanLII 5271 (ONSC), 93 CCC (3d) 357, per Hill J, at para 20
  10. R v Chambers, 1983 CanLII 245 , per Craig JA, at p. 143 aff'd 1986 CanLII 22 (SCC), 26 CCC (3d) 353, per McIntyre J (5:2)
    R v Concepcion, 1994 CanLII 1746 (BCCA), 48 BCAC 44 (BCCA), per Finch JA (3:0), at para 36 (it does not impose a blanket obligation “to disclose every fact which might possibly be relevant”)
    Montgomery, supra, at para 97
  11. Araujo, supra, at para 46
  12. e.g. R v Nguyen, 2011 ONCA 465 (CanLII), 273 CCC (3d) 37, per Blair JA (3:0) - CA overturns a decision to invalidate warrant for failing to mention lack of suspicious activity in front of grow-up house
  13. Brown, supra, at para 64
    R v Middleton, 2000 BCCA 660 (CanLII), 150 CCC (3d) 556, per Finch JA (3:0), at paras 18, 19
  14. R v Ebanks, 2009 ONCA 851 (CanLII), 249 CCC (3d) 29, per MacPherson JA (3:0), at para 43
  15. e.g. Ling, supra
  16. Morelli, supra, at para 79
  17. R v Morley, 2013 BCSC 463 (CanLII), per Arnold-Bailey J, at para 50
  18. R v Schiers, 2003 NSCA 138 (CanLII), 114 CRR (2d) 53, per Fichaud JA, at para 15
    R v Durling, 2006 NSCA 124 (CanLII), 214 CCC (3d) 49, per MacDonald CJ, at paras 20, 27
    R v Jackson, 1983 CanLII 244 (BC CA), 9 CCC (3d) 125, per Taggart JA and Seaton JA, at p. 131
    R v Sanchez, 1994 CanLII 5271 (ON SC), 93 CCC (3d) 357, per Hill J, at pp. 365, 370
    R v Church of Scientology, 1987 CanLII 122 (ON CA), 31 CCC (3d) 449, per curiam (3:0), at pp. 514 to 515
  19. Re Lubell, supra, at p. 190
  20. R v Ngo, 2011 ONSC 6676 (CanLII), OJ No 5023, per Hill J, at para 35(4)
    R v Cunsolo, 2008 CanLII 48640 (ON SC), [2008] OJ NO 3754, per Hill J
  21. R v Jacques and Mitchell, 1996 CanLII 174 (SCC), [1996] 3 SCR 312, per Gonthier J, at p. 12
    R v Lawes, 2007 ONCA 10 (CanLII), 72 WCB (2d) 487, per curiam, at para 4
    R v Simpson, 1993 CanLII 3379 (ON CA), 79 CCC (3d) 482, per Doherty JA, at p. 501
    R v Juan, 2007 BCCA 351 (CanLII), 222 CCC (3d) 289, per Thackray JA (3:0), at para 19 ("...the "reasonable person" is presumed to have the knowledge and experience, in this case in illicit drug matters, of a knowledgeable and experienced police officer.")
    R v Tran, 2007 BCCA 491 (CanLII), 247 BCAC 109, per Levine JA (3:0), at para 12
    R v Mouland, 2007 SKCA 105 (CanLII), 77 WCB (2d) 109, per Smith JA, at to 27 paras to 27{{{3}}}
    R v Ingle, 2007 BCCA 445 (CanLII), [2007] BCJ No 2024, per Rowles JA (3:0), at para 53
    R v Rajaratnam, 2006 ABCA 333 (CanLII), 214 CCC (3d) 547, per curiam (3:0), at p. 559
    R v Grotheim, 2001 SKCA 116 (CanLII), 161 CCC (3d) 49, per Cameron JA (3:0), at para 30

Rule Against Narrative (Source Citation Rule)

The drafting of an ITO cannot violate what is known as the "rule against narrative". This rule prohibits the drafter from citing any fact that has not been sourced from evidence that is identified within the ITO.[1]

  1. Re Criminal Code, [1997] OJ No 4393(*no CanLII links) , at para 8 ("...any factual assertion by the applicant within the four corners of the affidavit must be sourced to some investigative resource. Otherwise, the applicant breaches what is sometimes referred to as the rule against narrative. It is insufficient for an applicant to simply state conclusions, opinions and facts without providing the court with the source or origin for such conclusions, opinions or facts. The credibility and reliability of the assertions are inextricably linked to the investigative resources themselves.")

(A) Description of the Location (or Place) to be Searched

See also: General Warrants#Content of Warrant

It is a fundamental requirement that the warrant must precisely identify the location to be searched. [1]

A description that fails to describe the location will invalidate the warrant.[2]

Precision is necessary in the identification of the place to be searched. Police need to know the proper scope of their authorization. Vagueness can lead to searches of the wrong location and can lead to abuse.[3] Imprecision leaves those subject to the warrant in doubt about whether there is a presumptively valid warrant to search the premises.[4]

The ITO must sufficiently describe the location to be searched.[5] The description should be appropriate "description should be appropriate to the nature of the locus in question."[6]

What constitutes sufficient description will vary on the location and circumstances of the offence.[7]

  1. R v Ting, 2016 ONCA 57 (CanLII), 333 CCC (3d) 516, per Miller JA, at para 48 ("An adequate description of the place to be searched is a fundamental component of a search warrant. Its importance cannot be overstated")
    R v Le, 2011 MBCA 83 (CanLII), 275 CCC (3d) 427, per Scott CJ, at para 77
  2. R v Comic Legends, 1987 CanLII 3213 (AB QB), 40 CCC (3d) 203, per Virtue J
    R v Cranham, 2010 ONSC 6699 (CanLII), per McKinnon J, at para 17
    Re McAvoy (1971), 12 C.R.N.S. 56 (N.W.T. Terr. Ct)(*no CanLII links) , per Morrow J at p. 65 ("To avoid search warrants becoming an instrument of abuse it has long been understood that if a search warrant fails to adequately describe the offence, fails to accurately describe the premises to be searched, or fails to give an accurate description of the articles to be seized then it will be invalid.")
    Ting, supra, at para 50 ("a warrant that does not adequately describe the place to be searched is invalid")
  3. R v Wisdom, 2012 ONCJ 54 (CanLII), per Lipson J, at para 45
    Fontana, "The Law of Search and Seizure" (8th ed.), at p. 87 (“the search warrant process is location-critical and a high degree of precision is expected in both the supporting documents and the warrant itself...Vagueness in the description of premises invites, as a consequence, mistaken searches of wrong places or premises or innocent premises and remedial consequences under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”)
    Ting, supra, at para 49 ("Without an adequate description of the premises, the issuing justice of the peace would not be assured that he or she is not granting too broad an authorization, or an authorization without proper reason. The police officers called on to execute the search warrant would not know the scope of their search powers")
  4. Ting, supra, at para 49 ("those subject to the warrant would be left in doubt as to whether there is valid authorization for those searching their premises.")
  5. R v Parent, 1989 CanLII 217 (YK CA), 47 CCC (3d) 385, per Locke JA
  6. Fontana
  7. Ting, supra, at para 51 ("Just what constitutes an adequate description will vary with the location to be searched and the circumstances of each case.")

Motor Vehicles

A motor vehicle can be both a location to be searched as well as the actual thing to be searched for.[1]

  1. R v Rafferty, 2012 ONSC 703 (CanLII), OJ No 2132, per Heeney J, at para 43


A warrant to search a residence should be appropriate for the context. A single family home should include municipal address, including number, street, town or city.[1]

A warrant authorizing the search of a dwelling-house will generally not include motor vehicles, particularly where the ITO does not address the existence and relevance of the motor vehicle.[2]

For a search of an apartment building, the warrant must specify the unit number.[3]

A warrant is still valid where the address is wrong or vague in one section of the ITO but valid in another section.[4]

Where the ITO is inconsistent with the warrant some level of error is permissible as long as the location remains sufficient clear.[5]

It is possible for a single ITO and warrant to describe and authorize several premises.[6]

A warrant must distinguish between units in a multi-unit buildings as each unit has equal privacy to a single residence.[7]

Wrong Address

A warrant that outlines a wrong address results in the search of the correct address to be deemed warrantless.[8]

A wrong address on the warrant cannot be amended.[9]

  1. Fontana, "The Law of Search and Seizure" (8th ed.), at p. 87
  2. R v Vu, 2004 BCCA 230 (CanLII), 184 CCC (3d) 545, per Frankel JA (2:1) - appealed to SCC
  3. R v Wisdom, 2012 ONCJ 54 (CanLII), per Lipson J, at para 44 ("The warrant fails to specifically authorize a search of apartment 303 which is where the applicants resided")
  4. R v Sexton, 2011 NBCA 97 (CanLII), 978 APR 249, per Bell JA (3:0), at paras 4 to 9
  5. R v Parker, 2006 NBPC 38 (CanLII), 812 APR 235, per Ferguson J - address on warrant varied from address in ITO. ITO address was correct. Warrant found valid.
    R v Jacobson, 2009 ONCA 130 (CanLII), per curiam - correct address in ITO, error in warrant address. Warrant valid to search car only, lower expectation of privacy in car
  6. R v NM, 2007 CanLII 31570 (ON SC), 223 CCC (3d) 417, per Hill J, at para 363
  7. R v Ting, 2016 ONCA 57 (CanLII), 333 CCC (3d) 516, per Miller JA, at para 51
  8. R v Pampena, 2022 ONCA 668 (CanLII), per Feldman JA, at para 24
  9. R v Sieger v Barker, 1982 CanLII 634 (BC SC), 65 CCC (2d) 449, per McEachern CJ

(B) Description of Thing(s) to be Searched For

The warrant's description of things to be seized "operates as a guide for the officers conducting the search."[1]

The justice of the peace loses jurisdiction where the description is over-broad or too vague such that it essentially allows the officer to conduct a "carte blanche" search for any evidence within the premises.[2]

Generally, an approving justice should be satisfied that:[3]

  1. that the items specified exist;
  2. that the items specified will be found in the place to be searched at the time of the search;
  3. that the offence alleged has been, or will be, (depending on the type of search warrant being sought) committed;
  4. that the items specified will afford evidence of the offence alleged; and
  5. that the place to be searched is the location where the items will be located.

It has been recommended the following principles be considered:[4]

  1. peace officers should be given some latitude in describing things as they are still at the investigative stage;
  2. the description may be limited to classes of documents if it is sufficiently limited to the crime for which they are alleged to afford evidence;
  3. the Information sworn to obtain the Search Warrant must be read together with the Search Warrant;
  4. the nature of the offence(s) must be considered;
  5. in considering all of the factors, appropriate inferences may be made;
  6. there need not always be a time limit set out with respect to the documents sought;
  7. overly broad or vague descriptions can be severed leaving validly described things remaining;
  8. each case must be considered on its own facts.

The main question the reviewing judge must ask is, upon reviewing the ITO and the warrant "whether either the officers conducting the search or the Applicants whose premises were being searched would have any reasonable doubt about the things being searched for or the offences alleged to have been committed."[5]

A motor vehicle can be both a location to be searched as well as the actual thing to be searched for.[6]

See also R v Solloway and Mills, 1930 CanLII 487 (AB CA), (1930), 24 Alta.L.R. 410 (Alta. S.C.A.D.), per Harvey CJ.

  1. R v Du, 2004 ABQB 849 (CanLII), 65 WCB (2d) 720, per Macklin J, at para 12
  2. Du, ibid., at para 12
  3. R v Adams, 2004 CanLII 12093 (NL PC), NJ No 105, per Gorman J, at para 24
  4. Du, supra, at para 12
    See also R v Church of Scientology, 1987 CanLII 122 (ON CA), 31 CCC (3d) 449, per curiam
    Re Lubell and The Queen, 1973 CanLII 1488 (ON SC), 11 CCC (2d) 188, per Zuber J
    R v Silverstar Energy Inc, 2004 BCSC 1115 (CanLII), [2004] BCJ No 1767, per Allan J
    R v Sanchez and Sanchez, 1994 CanLII 5271 (ONSC), 93 CCC (3d) 357, per Hill J
    R v PSI Mind Development Institute Ltd, 1977 CanLII 2013 (ONSC), 37 CCC (2d) 263 (Ont. H.C.), per Lerner J
  5. Du, supra, at para 13
  6. R v Rafferty, 2012 ONSC 703 (CanLII), OJ No 2132, per Heeney J, at para 43

(C) Description of Offence(s) Being Investigated

An ITO must set out "a clear description of the offence being investigated". A lack of description will invalidate a warrant.[1] It is not necessary that the description set out the specific charge or be of quality for pleadings at trial.[2]

It is not necessary that the ITO be as specific in the offence as the wording in the indictment.[3]

The ITO and warrant must be equally sufficient. The warrant must have enough information that the recipient of the warrant must be able to identify "the various elements of [the] offence."[4]

The authorizing justice need not be satisfied that the offence was committed or that the items seized will afford evidence in proving the offence. The justice need only be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the items can be of assistance to establishing the commission of the offence and that they are in the premises to be searched.[5]

The ITO must also set out the evidentiary basis that makes out the offence.[6]

Evidence supporting a charge of accessing child pornography cannot support a warrant based on an investigation for possessing child pornography. [7]

It is not necessary that the suspect be named. It is enough to say "unknown persons."[8]

  1. R v Anderson and Slater, 2012 BCPC 496 (CanLII), per Jardine J, at para 37
    R v Branton, 2001 CanLII 8535 (ON CA), 154 CCC (3d) 139, per Weiler JA (3:0), at paras 35 to 37 - simply stating the act without mention of the specific offence is not enough
    R v Dombrowski, 1985 CanLII 182 (SK CA), 18 CCC (3d) 164, per Tallis JA
  2. Anderson and Slater, supra, at para 37
    R v Times Square Book Store, 1985 CanLII 170 (ON CA), 21 CCC (3d) 503, per Cory JA, at p. 512
  3. R v Royal American Shows Incorporated, 1975 CanLII 260 (AB QB), 6 WWR 571, per Cavanagh J
  4. R v Smith, 2004 SKQB 516 (CanLII), per Zarzeczny J, at para 30 ("the various elements of an offence must be sufficient, even in a warrant, to identify, to a person confronted with a warrant to search his dwelling, the offences in respect of which the warrant authorizes the search.")
  5. R v Kent, 1993 CanLII 3231 (NS CA), 338 APR 348, per Hallett JA (3:0)
    cf. R v Lemon, [2004] OJ No 6043 (Ont. S.C.)(*no CanLII links)
  6. Capostinsky v Olsen, 1981 CanLII 643 (BC SC), 10 MVR 221, per Berger J - warrant quashed due to a conclusory statement by officer that BAC level was over 0.08 R v Cunsolo, 2008 CanLII 51468 (ON SC), 180 CRR 225, per Hill J, at para 73 - ITO must describe how fraud was committed
  7. R v Morelli, 2010 SCC 8 (CanLII), [2010] 1 SCR 253, per Fish J (4:3), at paras 13 to 38
  8. R v Sanchez, 1994 CanLII 5271 (ON SC), 93 CCC (3d) 357, per Hill J ("in the instance of the crime of conspiracy such identification constitutes a significant investigative challenge ...The offence is not infrequently investigated, for some dura­tion, as committed by "a person or persons at present unknown"."

(D) Time of Search

The warrant should describe the time period in which the execution of the search is to be authorized. That period can be implied as being "within a reasonable time" from being authorized.[1] Some authority suggests that where there is an absence of a specific statement of the date of execution, it may be inferred that the execution date was the same as the signing date.[2]

A warrant omitting the time of search can still be facially valid.[3]

There should be a specified or inferred time period in which the search is to be conducted.[4]

Time of Day
See also: Execution of Search Warrants#Night Searches

Normally authorizations under s. 487, 487.1, 462.32 are to be executed during day time hours, which range from 6am to 9pm.

A night-time warrant requires additional grounds if done pursuant to s. 487, while it is not needed if authorized under s. 11 CDSA.[5]

  1. R v Saint, 2017 ONCA 491 (CanLII), per BW Miller JA
  2. R v Rafferty, 2012 ONSC 703 (CanLII), OJ No 2132, per Heeney J, at para 23
  3. Saint, ibid., at para 21
    R v Jones, 2011 ONCA 632 (CanLII), 278 CCC (3d) 157, per Blair JA (3:0) see also Time limitations on searches
  4. R v Du, 2004 ABQB 849 (CanLII), 65 WCB (2d) 720, per Macklin J - warrant quashed for failing to set time range of search
  5. Execution of Search Warrants

Connecting the Thing to the Location

The approving justice must be satisfied that there is a connection between the grounds for belief of the offence and that evidence of or information related to the offence will be found on the premises to be searched.[1]

The affiant must establish a link between the believed committed offences as well as any evidence of the offence and the belief that it will be found on the premises.[2]

The informant must pledge that the items not simply "could" be found but would be found. [3]

Rooming House

All rooms within a rooming house has the same level of privacy as a single residence.[4] An ITO proposing to search several units within a multi-unit dwelling should "clearly [set] out reasonable and probable grounds for each unit to be searched."[5]

  1. R v Turcotte, 1987 CanLII 984 (SK CA), 39 CCC (3d) 193, per Vancise JA
  2. e.g. R v Davis, 2012 ABPC 125 (CanLII), 260 CRR (2d) 182, per Lamoureux J, at para 26
    e.g. R v Morse, 2006 CanLII 63690 (ON SC), 148 CRR (2d) 350, per Nordheimer J
    Turcotte, supra
  3. R v Kelly, 2010 NBCA 89 (CanLII), 265 CCC (3d) 88, per Drapeau CJ, at para 39
  4. R v Campbell, 2011 SCC 32 (CanLII), [2011] 2 SCR 549, per Charron J (7:0), at para 15
  5. Campbell, ibid., at para 15

Reliability of Information Within the ITO

Information such as references to previously dismissed charges are irrelevant and should not be included in an ITO. They may be misleading and suggest an unfair propensity.[1]

Currency of Information

It is essential that the affiant provide some detail on the recency of the information he is relying upon. An ITO without any detail on timing will be void.[1]

The age of the information will be a factor in considering whether reasonable grounds still exist. There is no fixed amount of time that renders it "stale."[2]

Even "stale" or "dated" information may be used in an ITO.[3]

The timing should be specific for the context. Simply saying that the suspect was seen near the location of the crime "several hour" ago is not sufficient.[4]

Child Pornography

The searching officer may draw the inference upon learning of the download of suspected child pornography that the files may remain on the computer well after download and even where efforts to delete the materials have been made.[5]

The searching officer may in some cases also rely upon their experience "of individuals who access and possess child pornography on their computers" which tells them that "often these individuals kept images for “long periods of time” and “rarely deleted collections”." Generally, dated information on the presence of child pornography can be relied upon as those who collect such materials are known to keep it for a long period of time. [6]

A computer previously identified as being in the home would reasonably be inferred to still be present at the same location absent evidence suggesting otherwise.[7]

  1. R v Hosie, 1996 CanLII 450 (ON CA), 107 CCC (3d) 385, per Rosenberg JA (3:0)
  2. R v Ballendine, 2011 BCCA 221 (CanLII), 271 CCC (3d) 418, per Frankel JA (3:0), at para 54
  3. R v Brown, 2007 BCPC 448 (CanLII), per De Couto J , at para 65
  4. R v Carroll, 1989 CanLII 206 (NS CA), 47 CCC (3d) 263, per Macdonald JA
  5. R v Ward, 2012 ONCA 660 (CanLII), 97 CR (6th) 377, per Doherty JA (3:0), at para 114 ("...extensive technical evidence to the effect that files downloaded by the appellant on the computer could be recovered by police technicians even if the appellant had made efforts to delete those files. This evidence offered some basis for an inference that the prohibited material remained on the computer long after it was downloaded and could be recovered if the police were given access to the computer")
    Brown, supra, at para 82
  6. Ward, supra, at para 115
    R v Neveu, 2005 NSPC 51 (CanLII), 760 APR 59, per Gibson J, at para 18
    R v Wonitowy, 2010 SKQB 346 (CanLII), 358 Sask R 303, per Dufour J, at paras 37 to 50
    Brown, supra, at para 82
  7. R v Stemberger, 2012 ONCJ 31 (CanLII), per Borenstein J, at para 99

Cross-Examination of Affiant

The accused may only cross-examine an officer who sworn an affidavit to obtain a search warrant with leave of the court. Leave should be granted where it would assist in the determination of whether there is a basis upon which the authorizing judge could have granted the order.[1]

Standard for Leave to Cross-Examine

The applicant must show the basis of that the examination "will elicit testimony tending to discredit the existence of one of the pre-conditions."[2]

Dangers of allowing cross-examination of an affiant include the prolixity and slowing down of the proceedings.[3]

Getting Behind a "Strawman" Affiant

There is some right to cross-examine sub-affiant (ie. the first-hand source of information attested to by the affiant) where the affiant is largely relying upon the hearsay evidence of others.

Standard of Review of Decision

The discretionary decision to deny the right to cross-examine an affiant can be reviewed if there is an error in principle, material apprehension of evidence, or unreasonable finding.[4]

  1. Salhany, Canadian Criminal Procedure, Sixth Edition, at 3.1880
    see also: R v Parsons, 2012 CanLII 42275 (NLSCTD), per Goulding J - leave refused
  2. R v Garofoli, 1990 CanLII 52 (SCC), [1990] 2 SCR 1421, per Sopinka J
  3. R v Pires and Lising, 2005 SCC 66 (CanLII), [2005] 3 SCR 343, per Charron J, at paras 33 and 34
  4. R v Daye, 2022 ONCA 675 (CanLII), at para 11

Credibility and Reliability of Source

See also: Confidential Informers

A source who gives fraudulent or deliberately misleading information does not automatically invalidate the warrant.[1] However, if on review the information is sufficiently "subversive", then the warrant should be invalidated. The offending materials should also be excised from the ITO.[2]

  1. R v Morris (W.R.), 1998 CanLII 1344 (NS CA), 173 NSR (2d) 1 (CA), per Cromwell JA (3:0), at para 91
    R v Evans (E.D.), 2014 MBCA 44 (CanLII), 306 Man R (2d) 9, per Mainella JA (3:0), at para 17
  2. Morris, supra, at para 91

Relying on Redacted ITOs

See also: Confidential Informers and Judicial Authorization Standard of Review

Procedure in Drafting Warrant

Crown Role in Drafting ITOs

A Crown should assist in pointing out "flaws, inconsistencies, or ambiguities" in the ITO they should not engage in the "wholesale review of the file". This would otherwise "blur the line" between the two roles.[1]

Retaining Early Drafts

There is no constitutional obligation to retain early drafts of an ITO. [2]

  1. R v Ebanks, 2009 ONCA 851 (CanLII), 249 CCC (3d) 29, per MacPherson JA (3:0), at para 49
  2. R v Croft, 2014 ABQB 23 (CanLII), per Burrows J

See Also