In Queensland, a search warrant is a legal document issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes the police to search a specific location for evidence related to a crime. This includes the power to enter and search the premises, as well as to detain and search any person found on the premises.

Under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, the police must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed and that evidence of the offence will be found on the premises in order to obtain a search warrant. The police must also provide the judge or magistrate with a detailed description of the premises to be searched, as well as the specific evidence they are looking for.

Once a search warrant is issued, the police must serve it on the owner or occupier of the premises before conducting the search. The owner or occupier has the right to be present during the search and to ask the police to provide proof of the warrant.

During a search, the police have the power to:

  • Enter and search the premises
  • Detain and search any person found on the premises
  • Open and search any container or thing on the premises
  • Take photographs or make recordings of anything found on the premises
  • Take samples of any substance found on the premises
  • Seize any evidence found on the premises
  • The police must also provide the owner or occupier with a receipt for any items seized during the search.

There are certain circumstances when police are permitted to enter without a warrant, such as:

  • For service of a legal document
  • For administration of a breath test
  • In circumstance where a person has been seriously injured
  • To search for evidence that they reasonably suspect may be destroyed; or
  • To carry out an arrest on someone

It is important to note that the police do not have the power to damage the structure of the premises unless the warrant specifically allows for this.

During a search, the police may take possession of an individual’s property if it is drugs, stolen property, guns, child pornography, or other evidence to support a criminal charge.

The individual’s vehicle may also be seized if the police suspect it was used to commit an offence. The police must provide a receipt for any items taken.

If the individual is found guilty of an offence, the court may order the seized property to be destroyed or forfeited to the State.