Do you know your rights in a situation when Police attempt to search you or your property?
Consenting to a police search
You don’t have to consent to a police search. If the police ask you if you consent to a search, you can say ‘no’.
However, in some situations, the police may have the power to search you, your home or your vehicle without your consent.
It’s usually best to say ‘no’ to a search, but you should obey the directions of the police otherwise you may be charged with obstructing police. If you say ‘no’, then the police will have to decide whether they have the power to search without a warrant or whether they will have to go and get a warrant.
Here at Greenhalgh Pickard we have experience in these types of matters. We were recently able to have charges dropped for one of our clients when we were able to identify an illegal search had taken place.
Searching private property
The police can enter and search your home without a warrant to:
Prevent domestic violence
Catch someone who has escaped from prison or from being arrested
Reach a crime scene
Investigate traffic offences (eg to take a breath test for alcohol)
Search for evidence if they reasonably suspect there is evidence that may otherwise be hidden or destroyed
A police officer can enter your home without a warrant to shut down or prevent an out-of-control event or to identify a person who is committing an offence in relation to an out-of-control event.
A police officer can stop, detain and search a vehicle and its occupants if they reasonably suspect that there is something in the vehicle, including (but not limited to):
Something that you plan to use to hurt yourself or somebody else
A dangerous drug
Tools to break into houses or cars
Evidence that someone has committed an indictable offence (and this evidence may be hidden or destroyed).
A police officer can also stop, detain and search a vehicle:
To arrest someone in the vehicle
If they reasonably suspect that the vehicle is being used by or is in the possession of a participant in a criminal organisation.
If they reasonably suspect the vehicle is being used unlawfully
If it’s not practical to search the vehicle where it’s been stopped, the police can take it somewhere else to complete the search.
A police officer can also stop your vehicle in relation to an out-of-control event.