At private premises

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The police usually need a search warrant to enter and search private property, unless:

  • You agree to the police entering
  • The police have a reasonable belief that a serious offence will be or has been committed and entry is necessary to make an arrest
  • Entry is necessary to stop a breach of the peace
  • There has been a breach of an intervention order
  • The police are chasing someone who has escaped from custody
  • The police have a warrant for arrest
  • The police have a reasonable belief that illegal drugs are on the premises

See also What if ASIO visit

To get a search warrant, police must apply to a magistrate and provide sworn evidence, either in person or by affidavit. Once they have a warrant, police are only authorised to search a particular premises for specified items. There will also be an expiry date on the warrant. The police must serve an adult occupier of the house with a copy of the warrant.

Police cannot legally, for example, come to your house with a warrant for stolen electrical goods, and then attempt to take your address book. However if they come across evidence of an offence (for instance a marijuana plant) while searching they are entitled to take that and arrest you.

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