What is a Search Warrant?

A ‘Search Warrant’ in simple terms is an order (given from a Judicial Officer either a Magistrate or a Judge) which basically gives the police the power to enter a premises which is nominated in the Warrant and search that premises.


When the police apply for a search warrant, they must give that judicial officer reasons as to why they believe they will locate evidence on that premises. If the judicial officer issues the warrant, then they must record reasons as to why they had granted the issue of the warrant. Alternatively, if the judicial officer refuses to grant the warrant, then they must also record their reasons as to why they did not grant the issue of the warrant. 


What is the duration of a Search Warrant?

A Search Warrant lasts for 3 days unless the search warrant is extended by the judicial officer.


Can the police enter my property without a Search Warrant?

If the police don’t have a Search Warrant, then they can only enter your premises if you allow them to or if the police believe a person of interest is inside who they must arrest or if the police are of the belief that there is a crime in progress. Did you know that there are extra police powers when a search warrant is in relation to a premises which the police believe to be used for selling or even making of illegal drugs?


What is a ‘Covert Search Warrant’?

These types of Warrants are Warrants which can be executed without the actual knowledge of the Owners or Occupier(s) of the premises. An application for this warrant must be made to a Judge of the Supreme Court and it must also be made by a police officer with a rank of Superintendent or above. Did you know that a Covert Search Warrant allows the police to search any adjacent premises without notice and they also allow the police to impersonate any person so that they are able to gain entry? This warrant can be executed within 10 days of it being granted by the Judge.


How do police execute a Search Warrant?

When police execute a search warrant, this means that the police are actually carrying out the Search Warrant. If the police have a Search Warrant (apart from a Covert Search Warrant), then police must say that they have a Search Warrant and that they are there to conduct a search of the premises.


It is critical that police comply with terms of a Search Warrant (apart from a Covert search warrant) as search warrants cannot be executed during night-time unless the police are in fact authorised in the Search warrant.


It should also be noted that once police have a valid search warrant and once police demand entry into a premises then they are allowed to come into that premises. The search warrant can be videotaped, and police can search all the premises as described in the search warrant and police are also able to seize any item which is named on the warrant as well as any piece of evidence which the police believe is connected to the offence which is named on the warrant (As well as any other offence).


If for any reason entry is refused by the occupier of a premises, then police may use ‘reasonable force’ to enter the premises and it is a criminal offence to obstruct police when they are executing a search warrant.


Did you know that if the police don’t follow the correct procedure during the execution of a search warrant, then the court could rule that the warrant as well as the search is invalid? If that is the case, then this means that any evidence which has been collected by the police during the execution of the Search Warrant was done so unlawfully and the court might refuse to include it.


What is an Occupier’s Notice?

An occupier’s notice must be given by the police to a person who is at the premises. The occupier’s notice must be handed to the occupier of the premises if they are over the age of 18.  The occupier’s notice will set out the details of the subject warrant.


*This article correctly reflects the Laws of NSW as at 10th May 2022.


*It should be noted that this page or any other pages on our website (including any other social media platforms for Nicopoulos Sabbagh Lawyers) are not to be considered as a substitute for legal advice or even other professional advice. It should also be noted that accessing of this information from this website does not create a client-lawyer relationship.

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