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The police have a search warrant for my house – What next?

Do the police have a search warrant for your house, and you’re confused about what happens next?

Around 40,000 search warrants are issued in England and Wales every year meaning you are one of many people affected.

What is a search warrant?

A search warrant is a document allowing authorities to enter premises to search for material possessions or individuals.

They are usually issued by a court following an application by the police or an investigator. Search warrants provide authorities with the right to seize significant items found during the search.

Search warrants are usually obtained from the Magistrates court. There are circumstances in which authorities can search without a warrant, for example, if you have been arrested.

What types of search warrant are there?

The most common search warrants are obtained under these Acts:

  • Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, section eight for evidence of indictable offences
  • Theft Act 1968, section 26 for stolen property
  • Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 23 for controlled drugs
  • Terrorism Act 2000, schedule five, paragraph one and eleven for evidence relating to terrorism

On what grounds has the search warrant been obtained?

The officer or investigator who has obtained the search warrant will have provided information on:

  • Items or persons to be sought, so far as is practicable
  • The offence committed and the investigation
  • The suspect and their previous offending history
  • The person who controls the premises and any other occupants
  • Information that both supports and undermines the application
  • The premises to be searched
  • Why it is believed that the material sought will be found on those premises
  • The item(s) being sought

How long is the warrant valid for?

Most search warrants are valid for three months from the date of issue, depending on which act the warrant has been obtained under.

However, other search warrant powers provide for different periods, from anywhere from seven days to three months.

Will my items be seized?

Authorities can retain items if they believe it was obtained through an offence or if it is necessary to prevent it from being damaged, lost or altered. Cash can also be seized if police believe it has been obtained illegally.

Have you been accused of committing a crime? We help clients through all stages of the criminal justice process. For advice and representation, get in touch with our expert team today.

Mandeep Sehmi

Solicitor – Criminal Department

I am also a fully Accredited Police Station Representative, an Accredited Duty Solicitor and a Member of the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS).