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Warrants in Queensland

By 5 July 2013Criminal Law

What is a Warrant?

A warrant is an official document issued by an authorized government agency for the purpose of arresting a person (Arrest Warrant) or to search a person, a vehicle or a place (Search Warrant).

The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act (Qld) governs the provisions on arrests and searches in Queensland.The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act Queensland also provides the guidelines in the application for warrants, issuance, limitations and its enforcement.

Sections 369 to 371 govern the provisions of Arrest;
Sections 118, 150, 151, 155, 160 and 161 are the important provisions for Search Warrants;
Sections 31 and 32 deal with the powers of police to stop a vehicle, detain the occupants and to conduct a search on a vehicles and
Sections 29 and 30 contain provisions for the power of police to stop, detain and search a person.

Quick Facts on Warrants
Under Section 369 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act (Qld), it is lawful for a police officer to arrest a person named in a warrant.

Section 371 provides for the grounds that an arrest warrant may be issued. Police will apply to the court for an arrest warrant.

An Arrest Warrant will only be issued on reasonable grounds where:
There are reasonable grounds to suspect the person has committed an offence; and
For an offence other than an indictable offence, proceedings by way of Notice to Appear for the offence would be ineffective.

An arrest warrant will include the name of the applicant for the warrant, their rank, number and station, the person named in the warrant (ie the person to be arrested) and the offence allegedly committed.

What happens after a warrant is issued?

The warrant will be issued to the Queensland Police Service (QPS). The warrant will be recorded on the QPS computer system showing that there is a warrant for your arrest. Any police officer can execute the warrant.

Can I be Arrested Without a Warrant?

Queensland police also have the power to make an arrest even without a warrant under the following circumstances:

Section 365(1), Police Powers and Responsibilities Act Queensland. An arrest order can be served on the spot if the person is apprehended whilst breaking the law or there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is about to break the law.
Section 365 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act Queensland allows for police to arrest an adult:
If the person is apprehended whilst breaking the law or there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is about to break the law.
If the arrest is necessary to prevent a continuation or a repetition of the offence or the commission of another offence;
To make enquiries as to a persons identity;
To preserve the safety or welfare of any person, including the person being arrested;
To prevent a person from fleeing;
Because of the nature and seriousness or an offence;
The arrest is necessary to obtain or preserve, or prevent concealment, loss or destruction of, evidence relating to the offence;
The arrest is necessary to prevent the fabrication of evidence;
The arrest is necessary to ensure appearance before a court;

This is not an exhaustive list, but a summary of some of the more common reasons a person could be arrested without a warrant.

The Police may arrest a child (under 17) without a warrant subject to the You Justice Act s 13 if the police officer reasonably suspects the child is committing or has committed an offence.

Who else can issue Arrest warrant?
The following persons can also issue an arrest warrant:

Warrant by Chief Executive or delegate under Section 202, Corrective Services Act of 2006.

The Chief Executive or his delegate may issue a warrant when:
An offender escapes from lawful custody; or
Has been mistakenly discharged before the offender was eligible to be discharged; or
The offender remains in the community despite suspension or cancellation of his conditional release order or a parole order.

Warrant by Parole Board under Form 39, Warrant by Board for Arrest and Conveyance of Prisoner to Prison.
A Parole Board may issue a warrant when an offender remains in the community after a parole order has been suspended or cancelled by the board.

Warrant by Board for extradition purposes, Service and Execution of Process Act 1992.

Under the provisions of the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992, a warrant issued by the Parole Board can be executed interstate for the return of a parolee whose parole has been suspended or cancelled.

Warrant by justice following contravention of community based order

A justice of the court may issue a warrant upon complaint that an offender has breached a community based order or multiple community based orders.

Search Warrants

Generally, Queensland Police cannot enter a building to conduct searches without a warrant. A Search Warrant is an official document issued by a Justice, Magistrate or a Judge. It grants authority to police to enter a building, conduct searches in the premises and locate items listed on the Search Warrant.

Under Section 151 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act (Qld), the Police may obtain a Search Warrant only if satisfied there are reasonable grounds to suspect that evidence or property is at the place, or is likely to be taken to the place within the next 72 hours.

However, if the Police cannot present a search warrant, the building owner or tenant in the property can refuse entry and oppose to any searches. You should communicate your refusal clearly and if possible, find a witness.

It is important to know that a Search Warrant is only valid for 7 days after issuance (Section 155) The police cannot serve an expired warrant, however, if you have consented to the search despite an expired Search Warrant, the search will be considered valid.

It is also your right to ask for a copy of the warrant. You should read and take note of the following:
The name appearing in the search warrant;
The address where the warrant should be served;
The date it is issued; and
The things that should be seized.

With a valid Search Warrant, the Police can enter the premises and do the following:

Detain any person at the place for a reasonable time;
Search any person found at the place;
Open anything that is closed or locked;
Dig up land;
Inspect animals;
Remove wall or ceiling linings or floors of a building, or panels of a vehicle;
Seize anything including vehicles, computers and things that police suspect could provide evidence; and
Photograph anything that the police reasonably suspect might provide evidence.

Can Police Search a Building Without a Search Warrant?

Police may search a building without a Search Warrant. If the police have reasonable suspicion that evidence at a place will be concealed or destroyed unless the place is immediately searched, police may search the place as if a Search Warrant was in effect, and may do any thing a warrant allows, except cause structural damage to the place.

After this search, the police will then have to apply to a Magistrate for a post-search approval at the earliest possible time after conducting the search (Sections 160 and 161, Police Powers and Responsibilities Act, (Qld)).

What Should You Do When Police Serve a Warrant?

Do not panic! This is what you should do:
Ask for a copy of the warrant and make sure it has your name, with the correct address on the warrant;
Do not argue with the police;
Do not resist arrest, however, you can ask for the reasons why you have been arrested, do not answer questions or sign a statement without the assistance of a lawyer;
If you do not consent to the search, communicate clearly your refusal and if possible, see to it that you have a witness;
Know the name and serial number of the arresting officer;
Request to talk or see your lawyer at once; and
Request bail if possible.