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Know Your Rights: Do the Police Have the Right to Search You Without Your Consent?

The law can help you. But for it to help you, you need to know your rights. For instance, if a police officer wants to search you, should you comply? Or do you have the right to refuse the search?

In the event that a police officer wants to search you, you have to options: consent to the search or refuse.

If you choose to consent, be sure to ask the police officer the reason for the search. It is also a good idea to note down the name, rank & the station of the police officer performing the search. And remember, just because you consented does not mean you can’t revoke your consent at any time during the search. If at some time during the search, you feel uncomfortable, you are within your rights to request them to cease the search.

In NSW, the police adhere to LEPRA – Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act. Any evidence produced as a result of a search is subject to the Evidence Act.

There are instances where a police officer may perform a search, despite your refusal, and in the absence of a warrant. These instances include when a police officer suspects:

  • You have something in your possession that is stolen.
  • You have something in your possession that was used or is intended to be used to carry out an offence.
  • You have, in your possession, a prohibited plant or drug.

When a police officer insists on the search, despite your clear refusal, the best thing for you to do is to stay calm and talk to them in a composed manner, questioning them about the legality of conducting such a search.

If the police officer commences the search without your consent, your best course of action is to remain calm. Avoid making any sudden or aggressive movements, as they can be construed as obstructing or resisting a police officer, leading them to charge you. Instead, keep your cool and note down the reason for the search. You can later seek legal counsel to help you with your situation.

Police officers can only search you without a warrant when they have reasonable grounds to carry out the said search. If you feel your search was unfair or carried out in a manner that was not in accordance with the LEPRA act, you can contact us for Legal Advice. Call Platinum Lawyers Sydney at (02) 8188 2310.

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