Police Search Powers​

Police Search Powers

Police may ask you to consent to a search if they lack a warrant or other legal permission to do so. This is known as “search by consent.”

You have the right to decline and cannot be compelled to give permission for a search.

If a police officer has a good reason to believe you are guilty of the following, they may search you without a warrant in a public area:

  • use illicit substances
  • you live in a neighbourhood where there is a lot of violent crime (they can use this fact to show they have reasonable grounds to search you);
  • you have items that could explode or catch fire;
  • you have guns or weapons like knives, imitation guns, knuckledusters, or nunchakus;

The police officer must have a good reason to suspect you are 14 years old or older in order to search you for a graffiti offence. Additionally, you must be trespassing on private land or on or near public property.

A public place includes a shop, a train station, public transport (buses, trams or trains), school and a hospital or welfare centre like the Salvation Army.

The police officer has the right to check your automobile and everything you are carrying. Even if you are not in your car, it can still be searched.


Visit our ‘Being Pulled Over by the Police’ post for more.

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