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UNDERSTANDING YOUR RIGHTS: POLICE SEARCHES OF MOBILE DEVICES IN QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA


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In today's digital age, our mobile phones have become an integral part of our identity. Comprising of our personal information, confidential messages, photos and financial information – mobile phones withhold a wealth of private property. So what happens when the police want to search your mobile phone or access its contents?


This is a question frequently asked by those in Queensland, who seek to protect their privacy and personal information from unwanted searches.


In Queensland, Australia, police officers do have the right to search your mobile device. As stated in the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, this right is to be exercised only under reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, or by an obtained warrant.


Can police search your phone without a warrant?


Only under certain circumstances can Queensland Police search your device without a warrant. This would be under ‘reasonable suspicion.’


Reasonable suspicion of illegal activity


Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard in Queensland, allowing police to conduct searches (including that of your mobile device) without the need to obtain a warrant.


The police officer must have reasonable belief that an offence has been - or is about to be - committed. This would be based on specific facts or witnessed behaviours.


Search warrants


If the police do not have reasonable suspicion, a warrant needs to be obtained to search your mobile phone or device. Warrants are issued by a judicial officer and are brought based on probable cause. In other words, there must be significant likelihood that the device holds evidence of an offence.


Individuals must cooperate with the search and are required to provide police with PINs or necessary passwords to access the device.


Refusal to cooperate could result in further fines or infliction of harsher penalties.


Remember your rights


When speaking with police, it is always important to remember your right to remain silent and seek legal advice.

The right to silence is codified in legislation in Queensland. Section 397 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, states that a person's right to refuse to answer questions is protected unless they are required under legislation to answer the questions - such as the Crime and Corruption Act.


When it comes to police questioning, individuals hold the right to remain silent – and seek guidance from a lawyer. This is important to ensure your rights are protected.


To conclude, “Are the police allowed to search your mobile phone or access its’ contents?”. The short answer: Yes. However, it must be on the grounds of reasonable suspicion or through an obtained warrant. Always remember your right to remain silent and your ability to seek legal support.


If you have concerns about the legality behind a police search or dealings with police, make sure you seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Creevey Horrell Lawyers, our team are well equipped to provide you with excellence in legal support.


Contact Creevey Horrell Criminal Lawyers


Based in Brisbane, Roma, Toowoomba and Townsville.


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