Canadian Criminal Procedure and Practice/Arrest and Detention/Warrant Arrests
A warrant is one among several means of securing an accused's attendance at court. On warrants, the Criminal Code states:
Contents of warrant to arrest
511. (1) A warrant issued under this Part shall
- (a) name or describe the accused;
- (b) set out briefly the offence in respect of which the accused is charged; and
- (c) order that the accused be forthwith arrested and brought before the judge or justice who issued the warrant or before some other judge or justice having jurisdiction in the same territorial division, to be dealt with according to law.
Discretion to postpone execution
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1)(c), a judge or justice who issues a warrant may specify in the warrant the period before which the warrant shall not be executed, to allow the accused to appear voluntarily before a judge or justice having jurisdiction in the territorial division in which the warrant was issued.
Deemed execution of warrant
(4) Where the accused appears voluntarily for the offence in respect of which the accused is charged, the warrant is deemed to be executed.
Certain actions not to preclude issue of warrant
512. (1) A justice may, where the justice has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that it is necessary in the public interest to issue a summons or a warrant for the arrest of the accused, issue a summons or warrant, notwithstanding that
- (a) an appearance notice or a promise to appear or a recognizance entered into before an officer in charge or another peace officer has been confirmed or cancelled under subsection 508(1);
- (b) a summons has previously been issued under subsection 507(4); or
- (c) the accused has been released unconditionally or with the intention of compelling his appearance by way of summons.
Warrant in default of appearance
- (a) service of a summons is proved and the accused fails to attend court in accordance with the summons,
- (b) an appearance notice or a promise to appear or a recognizance entered into before an officer in charge or another peace officer has been confirmed under subsection 508(1) and the accused fails to attend court in accordance therewith in order to be dealt with according to law, or
- (c) it appears that a summons cannot be served because the accused is evading service,
a justice may issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused.
Formalities of warrant
513. A warrant in accordance with this Part shall be directed to the peace officers within the territorial jurisdiction of the justice, judge or court by whom or by which it is issued.
Execution of warrant
514. (1) A warrant in accordance with this Part may be executed by arresting the accused
- (a) wherever he is found within the territorial jurisdiction of the justice, judge or court by whom or by which the warrant was issued; or
- (b) wherever he is found in Canada, in the case of fresh pursuit.
By whom warrant may be executed
(2) A warrant in accordance with this Part may be executed by a person who is one of the peace officers to whom it is directed, whether or not the place in which the warrant is to be executed is within the territory for which the person is a peace officer.
Under s. 511, the execution of a warrant or arrest authorizes 1) the arrest of the accused and 2) the officer to bring the accused before a judge in the territorial division in which the warrant was issued.
Judge Issued Warrant
Issue of warrant for arrest of accused
524. (1) Where a justice is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an accused
- (a) has contravened or is about to contravene any summons, appearance notice, promise to appear, undertaking or recognizance that was issued or given to him or entered into by him, or
- (b) has committed an indictable offence after any summons, appearance notice, promise to appear, undertaking or recognizance was issued or given to him or entered into by him,
he may issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused.
From R. v. Warford:
- R. v. Beauregard (1999), 1999 CanLII 13778 (QC CA), 136 C.C.C. (3d) 80 (Que. C.A.), provides an example of a situation where a search was found to be valid based on an assessment of the totality of the evidence. Fish J.A. explained, at page 83:
We are concerned instead with a search authorized by warrant on grounds furnished by a ‘coded' informer of known identity and proven reliability. He had provided the officer who swore the information with detailed and specific reasons for believing that evidence of drug trafficking would be found in the respondent’s apartment. The informer had personally seen cocaine in that apartment a few days earlier. He gave the police the full name, approximate age and full address of the respondent, and a description of the respondent’s apartment building and of the location of the respondent’s unit in that building.
Feeney Warrant of Arrest
When a suspect is the subject of an arrest warrant and he is believed to be found in a dwelling-house, the peace officer must seek authorization to enter the dwelling using a "feeney warrant".
Section 529 states:
Including authorization to enter in warrant of arrest
529. (1) A warrant to arrest or apprehend a person issued by a judge or justice under this or any other Act of Parliament may authorize a peace officer, subject to subsection (2), to enter a dwelling-house described in the warrant for the purpose of arresting or apprehending the person if the judge or justice is satisfied by information on oath in writing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person is or will be present in the dwelling-house.
(2) An authorization to enter a dwelling-house granted under subsection (1) is subject to the condition that the peace officer may not enter the dwelling-house unless the peace officer has, immediately before entering the dwelling-house, reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested or apprehended is present in the dwelling-house.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 529; 1994, c. 44, s. 52; 1997, c. 39, s. 2.
Any power to enter a dwelling-house to carry out an arrest under a criminal code offence will equally apply to warrants under other federal Acts.
- R v Feeney 1997 CanLII 342,  2 SCR 13 at para. 19-20
- R v Golub 1997 CanLII 6316 (ONCA) at para. 41
- see s. 34.1 of the Interpretation Act
Outside Native Jurisdiction
Canada-wide warrants are warrants that are not attached to particular jurisdictions. It can only be issued by a judge of a superior court and not a provincial court judge.
It is provided for under s. 703:
703(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a warrant of arrest or committal that is issued out of a superior court of criminal jurisdiction, a court of appeal, an appeal court within the meaning of section 812 or a court of criminal jurisdiction other than a provincial court judge acting under Part XIX may be executed anywhere in Canada.
(2) Despite any other provision of this Act but subject to subsections 487.0551(2) and 705(3), a warrant of arrest or committal that is issued by a justice or provincial court judge may be executed anywhere in the province in which it is issued.
Transferring Local Warrants to Different Provinces
Where no Canada-wide warrant is issued and a regular 514 warrant has been issued in another jurisdiction, under s. 528 the local court may endorse the foreign warrant:
528.(1) Where a warrant for the arrest or committal of an accused, in any form set out in Part XXVIII in relation thereto, cannot be executed in accordance with section 514 or 703, a justice within whose jurisdiction the accused is or is believed to be shall, on application and proof on oath or by affidavit of the signature of the justice who issued the warrant, authorize the arrest of the accused within his jurisdiction by making an endorsement, which may be in Form 28, on the warrant.
(1.1) A copy of an affidavit or warrant submitted by a means of telecommunication that produces a writing has the same probative force as the original for the purposes of subsection (1).
(2) An endorsement that is made upon a warrant pursuant to subsection (1) is sufficient authority to the peace officers to whom it was originally directed, and to all peace officers within the territorial jurisdiction of the justice by whom it is endorsed, to execute the warrant and to take the accused before the justice who issued the warrant or before any other justice for the same territorial division.
This section allows either local police or the police of the other jurisdiction to arrest the accused, who is located locally, and be transported to the jurisdiction of the original warrant.
Executing Warrants from Other Provinces
Section 503(3) addresses the situation where an accused is arrested without a warrant outside of the jurisdiction and the local jurisdiction would like to compel their attendance at court.
503.(3) Where a person has been arrested without warrant for an indictable offence alleged to have been committed in Canada outside the territorial division where the arrest took place, the person shall, within the time prescribed in paragraph (1)(a) or (b), be taken before a justice within whose jurisdiction the person was arrested … and the justice within whose jurisdiction the person was arrested
- (a) If the justice is not satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person arrested is the person alleged to have committed the offence, shall release that person; or
- (b) If the justice is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person arrested is the person alleged to have committed the offence, may
- (i) Remand the person to the custody of a peace officer to await execution of a warrant for his or her arrest in accordance with section 528, but if no warrant is so executed within a period of six days after the time he or she is remanded to such custody, the person in whose custody he or she then is shall release him or her…..
- R v Charles, 2012 SKCA 34 - reviews law of warrants
- R. v. Warford, 2001 NFCA 64 (CanLII) - reviews s.495 warrantless arrests
- R. v. Garofoli, (1990) 2 SCR 1421, 1990 CanLII 52 (SCC) - hearsay "tip" by informant, Sopinka: "Hearsay statements of an informant can provide reasonable and probable grounds to justify a search. However, evidence of a tip from an informer, by itself, is insufficient to establish reasonable and probable grounds... The results of the search cannot, ex post facto, provide evidence of the reliability of the information."
- Canadian_Criminal_Procedure_and_Practice/Search and Seizure