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Can Police Enter Premises? (Qld)

In Queensland, there are a number of circumstances under which the police can enter premises without a warrant. When the police enter premises without a warrant, they can only remain for what would be considered a reasonable time to conduct the work required for the particular purpose of the visit. This article outlines the purposes for which police can enter premises in Queensland. 

When can police enter premises without a warrant?

The police may enter your premise without your consent for the following reasons: 

  • To investigate or inquire into a matter or to serve documents (unless a warrant is required by law in the circumstances);
  • To arrest or detain a person where empowered to do so under an Act, and where it is reasonably suspected that the person is in the dwelling;
  • To search the place pursuant to a search warrant and to the extent permitted by the warrant;
  • To search the place to prevent the loss of evidence;
  • To prevent the occurrence or continuation of injury to a person, damage to property or domestic violence;
  • To ensure compliance with other relevant laws ;
  • To stop excessive noise.

Do I have to let the police enter premises?

If a police officer comes to your door without invitation, you should ask the reason for their presence. If you do not wish to consent to the police entering or remaining on your property, this should be made clear to them. If the police arrive with a search warrant, make sure that you check the details on the warrant and ensure it is correct. The search warrant should state the property and the powers endowed to the police officers to conduct a search. You also have the right to keep a copy of the document.

If the police enter your premises either by consent or without a warrant, then it is best to attempt to be co-operative and not obstruct the police officers. Otherwise, you could be charged with an ‘obstruct police officer’ offence. By the same token, you have a right to be treated with respect. The police should conduct themselves respectfully and be dignified when conducting any searches of a personal nature. 

Search warrants

Under section 150 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 police may apply for a warrant to enter and search a place for any of the following purposes. 

(a) To obtain evidence of the commission of an offence; 

(b) To obtain evidence that may be confiscation-related evidence; 

(c) To find a vehicle that is to be impounded or immobilised; 

(d) To find control order property; 

(e) If the place is premises at which a senior police officer reasonably believes disorderly activities have taken place and are likely to take place again, to find prohibited items at the place. 

An application for a search warrant must be made to a magistrate if the thing to be sought under the proposed warrant fits into any of the following categories.

(a) Evidence of the commission of an offence only because—

(i) it is a thing that may be liable to forfeiture or that is forfeited; 

(ii) it may be used in evidence for a forfeiture proceeding; 

(iii) it is a property tracking document; 

(b) evidence of the commission of an indictable offence committed in another state that, if it were committed in Queensland, would be an indictable offence in Queensland; 

(c) confiscation related evidence; 

(d) control order property; 

(e) a prohibited item.

An application for a search warrant must be made to a Supreme Court judge if, when entering and searching the place, the police intend to do anything that may cause structural damage to a building.

What can be seized during a police search?

During a search, the police can seize property if it is property that it is illegal to possess or if it is evidence required to support a criminal charge. The police can seize property such as a vehicle, and personal devices such as a mobile phone or computer.

If the police seize a phone, they cannot search it without the owner’s consent or without a warrant to do so, unless the officer reasonably suspects that the phone contains evidence of a crime being committed, such as dealing or possessing drugs. If the police seize property, they will provide you with a receipt listing all the property that has been seized. Property should be returned to you undamaged within 30 days if it is not going to be used for evidence. If you are found guilty of the crime the court may make a forfeiture order and order that the property be destroyed. 

If the police seize property unlawfully it is possible to exclude that evidence in a criminal law trial. 

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Lisa Taylor - Senior Associate - Gympie

This article was written by Lisa Taylor - Senior Associate - Gympie

Lisa holds a Masters in Law and a Bachelor of Laws. She also holds a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the Australian National University and is admitted as a Lawyer to the Supreme Court of Queensland and as a solicitor to the High Court of Australia. As a senior associate, Lisa’s focus is on advocacy. She ensures all clients...

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