QLD IPhone Seized by Police - How to Get It Back?

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21 August 2018
Hi all,

This is an interesting one. I want to make sure we go down the correct channel to ensure my friend gets the device back as he has been advised not provoke the police into attempting to keep it longer.

He pleaded guilty to 1 count of possession of Cannabis, 1 count of possession of unlawful possession of utensils and 1 count of supply (less than 1.5g). The Judge showed discretion and no convictions were recorded, with only a DAAR sentenced. The lawyer mentioned in the hearing the requests lodged for the Mobile Phone to be returned (iPhone X over a year left on lease) and the Judge responded that there was no need for the Police to hold onto it. After the Hearing the Lawyer as well as the DAAR Referral Officer at the Courts mentioned that returning to the police station, showing the sentence form and requesting it back would allow the phone to be returned.

Upon arriving to the Station the Authorized Property Officer refused to hand back the device because it was used in relation to the offence and mentioned that the only way in which she could, was if a court order was made or the officer that seized the device decided it was okay?

This is contrary to the advice given at Court. What is the best channel to go down?

My friends Lawyer said that he should wait a few days for the paperwork from the courts to arrive to the station in case there is a court order in that stack. My friend is worried that their phone will not be returned and it is on a lease plan which is primarily used for their full time job. Are the police able to keep hold of the device indefinitely?

Thanks for any and all help!


Well-Known Member
5 January 2018
I think you are doing the correct thing by waiting for the paperwork to reach the police, it may take some time. From reading comments in this website in relation to similar issues, the police have the right to keep it if they suspect that the device was used for illegal matters (such as in this case). Also, it will be good not to provoke the police as you mentioned. You can wait a 7 to 10 working days and then go to the police station with a copy of the court papers, at least that will support your friend's situation if asked.

I maybe wrong, hopefully someone will better knowledge will correct me.

Tim W

LawTap Verified
28 April 2014
You can see what might be happening here.

"Heavy' possibility:
Perhaps the police want to (try to) further examine the phone.
Perhaps to find other offenders (eg the upstream dealer(s)), or
to find other offences committed by your friend.
Maybe, Constable Friendly at the local station will want to browse it.
Or maybe, they have sent it away for technical examination.

"Light" possibility:
Perhaps the Property Officer only knows one way to do things, or
is too junior to make a decision of her/his own
(even when procedure allows for it)​

You say your friend already has a lawyer.

Most of us here who are actually lawyers are very cautious
about second guessing the work of another lawyer.
Especially when we are being asked to comment on
a third hand hand, factually incomplete, version
of what may or may not have been said,
and which may or may not have been properly understood,
in conversation(s) that a third party (eg, you) was not part of
(even if you were physically present).​

The bottom line:

Your friend should take their lawyers's advice.

And you, who is (presumably) wholly uninvolved in the criminal proceeding,
and who has (presumably) no interest in the phone itself,
should not get involved.​