A warrant is an official document giving the police (or someone else) the power to:
- arrest you.
- search you, your vehicle, or your home.
- take and keep your things found in a search.
- put you in jail.
Warrants can be used for criminal and non-criminal matters (eg if you owe someone money).
If a warrant has been executed upon you, you should get legal advice.
When can I expect there might be a warrant?
In criminal law matters there are 2 common situations in which a warrant might be executed upon you:
- if you failed to attend Court when required.
- to search and seize property from your house, car, place of work etc.
If you were supposed to go to Court and did not appear on the specified Court date, then the Court may issue a warrant for your arrest. The police can take you into custody. If you were on bail, you are in breach of your bail undertaking, and you can be charged with the offence of contempt for failing to appear in Court unless you can “show cause” (ie had a good reason) for why you failed to appear. If you are convicted of the offence, the penalty for this charge is usually a fine. However, if you have previously failed to appear in Court, the penalty may be imprisonment.
If the Magistrate fines you, they will usually give you time to pay the fine. If it is not paid on time you may spend time in jail—this is called ‘in default’. The fine may also be sent to State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER). If you do not follow their arrangements for paying the fine, then there may be a warrant to send you to jail for the period the Magistrate said was ‘in default’.
If you are arrested for failing to appear, you will be brought before a Court, and you will have to convince the Court to grant you further bail. This can be difficult to do if you have previously failed to appear. If you are refused bail, you may be remanded in custody until your Court proceedings are finalised.
If the police think someone is breaking the law where you live or work, they may get a search warrant allowing them to search these places and seize items. Police officers do not always need a warrant to search you, your vehicle or your home.
Finding out about a warrant
To find out if there is a warrant for your arrest contact the Court where you were supposed to appear and ask if a warrant has been issued.
A lawyer can help find out if there is a warrant to arrest you or someone else—they can write to the Warrants Bureau to find out more information.
You can go to your local police station to find out if there is a warrant, but if a warrant has been issued then you will probably be arrested on the spot and taken into police custody.
If there is a warrant for your arrest—get legal advice. Remember an interstate warrant can still apply in Queensland.
What do I do if the police come with a warrant?
- Read the warrant.
- Make sure it is your name or address on the warrant.
- Try not to argue with the police (because you can be charged with the offence of obstructing police).
- Get legal advice.
Disclaimer: The material presented on this website is an information source only. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by the laws of Queensland, Australia only. Links to other sites from this website are provided for the users’ convenience. The LGBTI Legal Service does not endorse these sites and is not responsible for the information on these sites or the use made of this information. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor.