Police Powers and Responsibilities – Seized Property
Sometimes, police seize property in the course of exercising their duties and investigating crime. If your property has been seized by police, it is important to know your rights and how you can you go about having that property returned.
Hang on to your Field Property Receipt
The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act (PPRA) gives police powers to seize property in certain circumstances. In most circumstances, when a police officer seizes property from a person, they must provide that person with a receipt. This is called a Field Property Receipt and will list the items police have taken. This receipt can help you or your lawyer get your items back so it’s important that you hang on to it.
How long can police keep my stuff?
When a police officer seizes property, that officer is responsible for the safekeeping of the property until it is delivered to a property officer or property point. Unless the property is the subject of a charge, police may retain seized property for up to 30 days. After this time, they will need to obtain an order from a Justice of the Peace or a Magistrate. There are some obvious exceptions to this requirement like property that is perishable or has no intrinsic value.
Without such an order, a police officer MUST return the property to the owner or the person who lawfully had possession of the thing before it was seized. This means that you may be entitled to have property returned to you even if you are not the lawful owner. For example, you do not own property that you borrow or rent but because of the agreement you have with the owner, you have lawful possession of it.
It’s important to remember that the law requires the Commissioner of Police to take reasonable inquiries and efforts to locate persons claiming to be entitled to possession of certain property and facilitate the disposal or return of that property. You are entitled to insist that your property be returned.
Documents you need now…
If police seize documents from you, unless they have an order from a Magistrate or a coroner, they must let you inspect the documents and take extracts or make copies of it. You must be allowed to inspect the document at any reasonable time and from time to time. While this provision relates to documents, it also encompasses computers that store documents. This provision can be helpful if computers or paperwork relating to your business have been seized.
If you or someone close to you has had property seized and would like to discuss arrangements for the return of that property, please contact our Brisbane criminal lawyers today.