A warrant was successfully applied for by a peace officer to search the premises of a fraud suspect. The validity of the warrant was challenged. The officer swore an information to obtain a search warrant which referred to a document entitled “Annex A” outlining offence and objects sought. The reasonable grounds set out in the information included a statement by the victim, an examination of documents, and police investigation. The grounds set out in the information differ from those appearing in Annex A.
- Was the information sufficient to obtain a search warrant?
The issuance of a search warrant is a judicial act and thus the judge must decide whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that:
- the objects described are located in the place indicated, and
- these objects will provide evidence of the commission of the offence (probative value).
Boilard noted that while there is discretion on the part of the person executing the search warrant to seize things not set out in the warrant, a warrant cannot be used to provide a fishing opportunity. Depending on circumstance, reasonable grounds may be inferred from the information but they may need to be stated explicitly. The issuing judge cannot leave the ultimate decision to the discretion of the informant. The objects sought must be described with sufficient precision (not simply categorized) and relation to the offence they are evidence for must be indicated.
Applying this reasoning, the statement of the reasonable grounds was found lacking, with no description of documents examined, information gained from the informant, details of the victim statement, or grounds to believe the sought items would be found. Because of the insufficiency of the grounds, Boilard found that the issuing justice exceeding his jurisdiction in issuing the search warrant.
- The grounds for a search warrant must be sufficiently explicit in order for the warrant to be issued.
- It must be more probable than not that the items sought are at the listed location and are linked to the listed offence.