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Police Powers: Stops and Searches

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What are my rights if the police have a search warrant?

A search warrant is a written order from a judge or justice of the peace. This order gives the police the right to search your home and take certain items that they find. The police usually use a search warrant during the day. A search warrant for drugs may be used day or night.

Before they come in, the police should knock and tell you why they are there. But they do not have to knock first if that might lead to:

  • evidence being destroyed, or
  • someone being harmed.

If they knock and you do not let them in, they can break down the door.

The police should show you the search warrant. If they do not show it to you, ask to see it.

Make sure that the information on the warrant is correct. Check whether your address is correct, and see if the warrant shows the dates and hours when it can be used. Also, check the warrant for the signature or name of the judge or justice of the peace who ordered it. The warrant must say who signed it, and the place, date, and time they signed.

If the warrant contains incorrect information, tell the police. Usually, a warrant is valid even if there are small problems, such as a spelling error. If the warrant has mistakes in it, you can ask the police to leave, but you should not try to stop them from entering or make them leave your home.

If the police have a warrant, they can use "reasonable force" to enter your home. If you try to stop a legal search, you can be charged with obstructing the police.