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Criminal & traffic law

Entry powers: When the police can come into your home

Entry with a court warrant

The police can come into your house or flat if they have an entry warrant, whether you agree to them coming in or not. A warrant is an official court document issued by a judge or some other court official, often a court registrar.

When can the courts issue an entry warrant?

The courts have powers under various Acts of Parliament to issue a warrant or written authority for the police or other government officials to enter buildings or other property to make arrests, or to investigate or prevent various offences, or to obtain evidence or information.

For example:

  • the Search and Surveillance Act 2012
  • the Fisheries Act 1996
  • the Tax Administration Act 1994, and
  • the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992.

Other state officials, like Customs Officers and Fisheries Officers, also have search powers.

What are my rights if the police have an entry warrant?

Search and Surveillance Act 2012, ss 103, 131

You have to let the police come in if they have an entry warrant issued by a judge or other court official.

The police have to have the warrant with them and you have a right to see it if you ask to. This will allow you to check that the police are keeping to the terms and restrictions stated in the warrant and also to get other relevant information, such as:

  • the name of the Act the warrant is issued under and what the alleged offence is
  • the scope of the warrant – that is, who or what the police are looking for and where they’re allowed to search
  • the date the warrant expires (the police can’t use the warrant if the expiry date has already passed).

Search and Surveillance Act 2012, s 118

If you arrive home and find the police there carrying out a search with a warrant, they can hold you there for a reasonable time while they’re doing the search.

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Police powers

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

YouthLaw Aotearoa

YouthLaw provides free legal advice for young people throughout New Zealand. Their website provides great information for young people about the law.

Website: www.youthlaw.co.nz
Email: nzyouthlaw@gmail.com
Phone: 0800 UTHLAW (0800 884 529)

New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on your rights when dealing with the police.

Website: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/you-and-the-police

Independent Police Conduct Authority

The Independent Police Conduct Authority website has information about how the Authority receives and investigates complaints about the Police.

Website: www.ipca.govt.nz
Email: info@ipca.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 503 728

To make a complaint online: complaints.ipca.govt.nz/195

Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA)

Under the PDLA scheme, you can talk to a lawyer for free if you’ve been arrested. The service is provided for free, 24/7.

Email: legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz
Phone: 04 918 8800

For more information: www.justice.govt.nz/about/lawyers-and-service-providers/legal-aid-lawyers/pdla

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