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14 Search Warrants


Summary

A search warrant authorises a police officer to enter and search a private place for evidence that an indictable offence has been committed.

The search warrant consists of two parts:

  1. the application with the information to substantiate the issuing of the warrant, and should contain:
    • full name, rank and station of the police officer (the applicant)
    • full name, date of birth, occupation and address of the occupier (if known)
    • full address and details about the premises (visible description of all buildings and entrances)
    • brief particulars of the offence(s), and the relevant Qld Act(s)
    • description of the evidence sought
    • grounds for believing the evidence of the offence is likely to be found on the premises
    • full details of any previous search warrants
    • a list of search powers (such as persons, vehicles, night search)
  2. the actual warrant which should contain:
    • full name, rank and station of the police officer
    • I, a Justice, (cross out Magistrate) after hearing a sworn application
    • address of the premises to be searched
    • full name, date of birth, occupation and of the occupier (if known)
    • date and time by which the proposed search must be conducted: 
      • If evidence is suspected to be on the premises then the warrant expires at midnight 7 days from issue. 
      • If there are grounds to suspect that evidence may be taken to the property within the next 72 hours, then the warrant expires 72 hours after it is issued. 
      • If the search warrant is for farm stock then the warrant ends 21 days after issue. 
      • If the warrant is to be conducted at night (9 pm to 6 am), the hours when the place may be entered, and the reasons for entering at that time.
    • the current date and place

Check

  • the occupier is not known to you, or is not related in any way, otherwise refer to another JP
  • the offence has occurred in Qld
  • the offence exists in Qld law
  • the warrant has not been refused by another JP, if so only a magistrate may issue it

Process

  1. Check and note the identification of the police officer (full name, rank and station).
  2. Place the police officer under oath/affirmation:
    • Oath: I swear that the contents of this document and any further information I may supply either orally or in writing are true and correct, so help me God.
    • Affirmation: I sincerely and solemnly declare and affirm that the contents of this document and any further information I may supply either orally or in writing are true and correct.
  3. If the officer wishes to keep a copy of the application, then two copies of the application are needed.
  4. Read the application carefully in its entirety. Check that it includes the information listed above.
  5. Ask the police officer any questions needed to clarify the offence and the evidence offered and its source. Ask and record questions and answers in log book. Some suggested questions: Source of the information, reliability of informant, how identity and location of place discovered, what exactly is being sought, outcome of any previous warrants, why is a night search needed.
  6. If satisfied, have the police officer sign the application, check signature, then sign application, date, affix seal and registration number. Ensure each page is signed and dated by the JP. Retain a copy of the application and store in a safe place.
  7. Check the warrant contains the information listed above.
  8. Complete the warrant with the current date. Sign the warrant, affix seal and registration number. If a name is requested use 'I, the undersigned'. Hand the completed warrant to the police officer.

Notes

  1. If you refuse to issue the warrant, draw 2 lines through the application and write between them the word 'Rejected' and write the reasons on the application. Contact the applicant's superior officer ASAP and inform them of the reasons for your decision. Record the reasons in your logbook.

References

  1. JP Handbook, Chapter 15.
  2. QJA Guide, Chapter 17.
  3. JP Bulletin February 2015