LawAnswers.com.au - Australia's #1 Legal Community

LawAnswers.com.au is a community of 10,000+ Australians, just like you, helping each other.
Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
Join us, it only takes a minute:

QLD Surprising and Suspicious Search Warrant from Police

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by Fellow Comrade, 19 February 2016.

  1. Fellow Comrade

    Fellow Comrade Active Member

    Joined:
    18 February 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi,

    This is my first post here and I apologize that it's going to be a long one, but I'm sure if you stick around, you'll have a bit of fun, and might even be able to share some of your opinions, helping a stressed out guy get some peace of mind.

    Quite some time ago, while I was at work, my father called to tell me that a couple of policemen were searching my room at my family home with a search warrant to look for illegal substances, namely cannabis, along with related utensils. This struck me as odd because I didn't have a criminal record, never had any issues with police for cannabis or otherwise, and I couldn't understand what their reason was for obtaining a warrant.

    This was, therefore, my first interaction with the police, and they already attained a very specific search warrant somehow. Anyway, they found a small amount of discarded item in a bag and concluded that I was in possession of 3 grams of cannabis (less than 1 gram without the bag, but that's beside the point).

    I was not given a copy of the search warrant before the search was conducted. In fact, I was unable to see it until that evening when I got home, long after the search had been conducted by police.

    I noticed that it said the reason for the search was that I was "found to be in possession of marijuana" three months earlier, in accordance with the 1987 drugs misuse act. I wasn't though.

    Now intrigued, I read the relevant section of the QLD 1987 drugs misuse act to find out what exactly they were basing their search warrant on. It turns out that the 1987 drugs misuse act makes reference to possible outcomes based on physical quantities. It plainly states that if I have been caught with over a certain number of grams then outcome 1 will take place, under this number of grams, outcome 2 will take place, indicating that a seizure of the illegal drug is necessary.

    How they came to the conclusion that they had found a definite physical quantity of illegal cannabis on my person 3 months prior to my first ever police interaction, is unknown to me. I, myself, wasn't aware that I had been determined a criminal three months prior to the warranted search.

    I had never been searched or arrested or even questioned about marijuana before. I had never even interacted with police before (except one time when I was busted for holding an open beer in public on Christmas eve). It scared me when I double-checked the warrant and the 1987 Drug misuse act, and the put everything together in my head.

    They were basing a search warrant on a claim that they found a specific amount of cannabis on my person 3 months prior to the first time I was ever actually found to have cannabis on my person. The warrant used to gain access to my property was based on something that simply did not happen.

    So, I was signing the paperwork the next day when I asked the cops, rather casually, if the warrant was a bit iffy and one of them chuckled off a sarcastic "Heh, yeah mate.", in a dismissive tone with raised eyebrows, as if to indicate that I was acting out of line or being silly. They then explained to me, rather paradoxically, that as this was my first marijuana offense, I would be attending drug diversion, which is only given as an option to people if it is their first time.

    I thought to myself: "Hmmm? The warrant already claims my first drug offense was three months ago but the cop is telling me this is my first offense too. What the hell is wrong with this warrant?"

    I asked them how they could have possibly determined that I was in possession of a particular amount of anything, 3 months earlier, without physically searching my person or property. Their reply was shocking to me. They said that they were not willing or obliged to divulge their sources, other than to say "we do have access to your metadata and phone records".

    I asked them again, more directly this time, what their proof was. My question was met with more mumbo jumbo about protecting procedures, officials, sources, etc. and that they don't have to tell me anything. Besides being shocked, I did find it pretty interesting that they specifically mentioned phone records and metadata. I might also note that an application inciting reasonable suspicion to a public official would have been necessary for them to attain my metadata and phone records in the first place.

    As far as I understand, metadata and phone records only act as indicators of the location and usage of your devices, the people you communicate with but not any content etc. How is it then that they could say, with conviction, I had possessed a certain amount of drugs and quote metadata and phone records as some kind of proof even though I wasn't searched and they aren't willing to explain to me their actual evidence if they have any?

    Is the alleged possession three months prior to the search false? If so, how could it be used against me for a warrant to search a property? If it is real, the police have essentially admitted that it is based on metadata and phone records and NOT finding a physical quantity on my person. In this case, I expect the QLD 1987 drugs misuse act to be completely invalid due to it's very terms of requiring an amount seized in grams. This would render the warrant invalid. In other words, either the warrant was based on a speculative inquiry into metadata and phone records, or it was based on some other form of "evidence" that doesn't involve physical observation. Either way, this is real proper freaky stuff.

    Like a confused little boy lost in a big city, I called up legal aid to see if they knew how I might have been incriminated. Boy did they go deep, talking about police interception and incrimination if they think you are using codewords to deal drugs etc. Lol, I was told that if I called up someone who is a known criminal and say I'm buying a box of potatoes, the police could assume it is slang for drugs and get a warrant to enter my private property.

    Police can even take sarcastic online statements and use them as admissions of truths. This scared me even more than I already was after the police basically admitted to spending 3 months looking at my movements, data and communication networks when I had a clean criminal record. Now I feel as though my very own room in my family home, the one I grew up in, is not a sanctuary and is closer to the property of the state than private living quarters.

    Because of this whole kerfuffle, i can't help but assume that the messages I send or receive may be overheard, that my words will reach ears for which I did not intend the expression of my thoughts, even if eventually. Anyway enough about how the police turned me into an anti-authoritarian...

    I have a slight feeling that the recent anti-association laws, make it easy to apply "reasonable suspicion" to enforce warrants. That there might be someone on my phone contacts who may have had a criminal history, and therefore, by association, it would be reasonable to suspect me to be a criminal, leading to a search warrant. This would explain the use of phone records and perhaps metadata. But it would not explain the claim that I was found with a definite amount of pot 3 months earlier when I certainly was not. Besides, how could they use anything from 1987 alongside something as recent as metadata retention?

    The truth is, I have no idea what the hell is going on or what their claims actually entail. All I know is that I now have a legally binding strike against my name which nobody is willing to substantiate. Absolutely no discourse. Absolutely no disclosure.

    Considering the police won't give me information relating to this, I was wondering if anyone knew anything about similar cases as it's very worrying to find out that even people without criminal records can be watched and that their online life can be retroactively scanned in order to search for incriminating links, and all these hidden legal processes are happening behind people's back. People can't lobby against secret processes in a democracy. Citizens shouldn't have the legal obligation to submit to transparency unless their government has demonstrated how it's done, so to speak.

    It would be a great help if you guys could let me know of any relevant laws and regulations regarding metadata, reasonable suspicion, anti-association, 1987 drug misuse act, police warrants, drug diversions, interception, and just basic incrimination tactics etc. Basically, any ideas you have about my story above are welcome. Feel free to reprimand me for smoking pot; let's get that out of the way so we can get back to making sense of the bigger situation. Besides, at the drug diversion they ended up sending me home with cigarette/alcohol self-help booklets and told me that I seemed to have more trouble with binge drinking and peer pressure... O' equivocal Australia....

    Anyways, if you have any questions or clarifications that might help you to help me, please let me know. I should hopefully respond pretty quickly.

    Thanks​
     
  2. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    27 September 2015
    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes Received:
    123
    So firstly, you have made your nickname 'comrade' so by now almost certainly ASIO has opened a file on you and wanna know if you have any associations with Communists.

    Just so you know, you live in a country where carrying a swiss army knife is a criminal offence. The cops are not gonna give you any info - but I'm willing to bet someone gave your name to them. They might have been intimidated into it.

    Oh and none of this helps your cause nor does fighting back. Plead guilty. Then keep your stash buried in the neighbour's yard but don't tell anyone I told you that....
     
  3. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 July 2014
    Messages:
    2,319
    Likes Received:
    423
    Have you attained a copy of your criminal record?
     
  4. Fellow Comrade

    Fellow Comrade Active Member

    Joined:
    18 February 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Haha, sammy01, I knew someone would have a bit of fun with this. lol. My name is just a small hint towards the great Christopher Hitchens. Bloody communists lol.

    Actually, this was one thing I was extra worried about. I was sincerely hoping that this isn't the case because that would mean that police believe one person over another using nothing but word of mouth, and don't allow discourse or disclosure while coming to the conclusion that a person may be a criminal. In other words, I would be able to get the police to raid whoever I want, all I would have to do is call them and make a claim against them and give them a name and address. If this was the case, though, wouldn't it be impossible for them to reference the section of the 1987 drugs misuse act that talks about specific quantities seized by police.

    How could they base a warrant on "knowing" that I held a particular amount of cannabis in grams if their source is words from another supposedly equal member of the public and no drugs were seized? Why would they also tell me that my metadata and phone records were being accessed?

    Surely the privacy of one citizen isn't at the disposal of any and every other citizen with a phone. That's just asking to be abused. Surely there is some protection for people whom claims are made about. Eg, I have a brother who once put a weed plant in my room because he knew the police were coming over to search him. I was only like 15 then, but I think they must have put me on some kind of list and maybe not believed me when I explained that it was my brothers, that he ran off, so and I had to deal with the police.

    How can I be sure my brother wasn't involved, etc. If they can render someone a criminal by word of mouth, I feel there is a clear imbalance of power. I would hate to end up in prison because someone reckons they can smell something, or my brother wants to try to get away from the law. We share the same birthday too. For all I know, he might have given the police my name when questions without ID or something. There's just too many possibilities for them to jump to conclusions based on a vocal admission.


    I was never given an opportunity to plead. I was sent to drug diversion without discourse or disclosure of the evidence or any reasoning at all. This means that next time could be jail time. I simply don't know what they think they know about me, and they're not willing to divulge why they believe they know it, but they have used it against me and given me no opportunities to fight it.

    So basically, all I'm doing is trying to attain any information that might help me to make sense of the laws surrounding incrimination by second-hand "evidence". I suspect "reasonable" suspicion is at play. I just hope that they don't pop around again with another warrant based on an equally untrustworthy warrant.

    Unfortunately, I have not. Is it a fairly simple thing to do in QLD? I have, on the other hand, spoken to the information commissioner regarding attaining documents relating to my person from QLD police, but they told me the only way to get it from them is by applying for it through them, AKA, I am expected to ask the very people who refuse to comply, for my information, it is the only way to retrieve details of this case, but they aren't willing to divulge.

    I'm not sure what my criminal history would entail, my guess is that it would only show this, and a domestic punch-up with my twin brother. Are people notified if their criminal record is altered or do people have to go hunting to find out what the police are doing with their name?
     
  5. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 July 2014
    Messages:
    2,319
    Likes Received:
    423
    Go to any police station in the state and ask for a copy of your police record. You're entitled to it.

    If they've included a prior charge as grounds for the search warrant, and that prior charge doesn't exist, you might be able to have the evidence attained during the search warrant struck out because it was attained illegally due to an invalid search warrant.

    That's not legal advice - I might be wrong.

    But it might be worthwhile looking into it.
     
  6. Fellow Comrade

    Fellow Comrade Active Member

    Joined:
    18 February 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    ps. The domestic with my brother was just a warning, but they took my fingerprints among other details. so not sure if that's even on my record.
     
  7. Fellow Comrade

    Fellow Comrade Active Member

    Joined:
    18 February 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ok, thanks, I'll check one of the local police stations out and see what's redacted.
     
  8. Fellow Comrade

    Fellow Comrade Active Member

    Joined:
    18 February 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    The drug diversion process diverts the court process, so I have a feeling that there is no conviction, per se, but I'm sure somewhere there is a record of the warrant, its search proceedings, and the potential drug conviction and the foundations it is based upon.

    The information commissioner said that the privacy act entitles me to access to any government document with my name on it (except for sensitive things that might affect the protection of sources, legal processes etc. (which, strangely enough, is the reason the cops gave me for their unwillingness to divulge information regarding my prior "possession").

    Do you mind me asking what kind of information is shown on the police record? Does the police record account for details of cases or just list them? Do they give you any related documents? I wonder how I might approach retrieving all the info I'm entitled to?
     
  9. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    27 September 2015
    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes Received:
    123
    Oh, I was so worried for you, but then I realised that you're in Queensland. Mate, no need to worry, because there is no police corruption in QLD. Remember the Fitzgerald inquiry. Oh dear...

    Story time...

    I'm a teacher. An ex-student asked for my help. He applied to join the cops but was knocked back due to his "lack of integrity". What the...This kid is squeaky clean. Turns out that some years back, the cops broke up a beach party. Some kid used his name, police officer wrote down the name then ordered the party disperse. 10 years on, that notation in a cop's notebook was grounds for the kid to be knocked back on his application to join the cops. Even though he was not the kid at the party and some smart arse used his name. So do you reckon they've got some details on you? Yep, just a bit.

    So the drug diversion course isn't a criminal conviction, but it is on the police database. My opinion - don't take drugs. Wow I sound like Ronald Reagan. But if that ain't an option, then dig a hole and bury the drugs. Or give them to me and I'll look after them for you....

    BTW, the whole 'mega data' nonsense is just a ruse. The fact is they are putting hurdles in-front of you to stop you from knowing why they came after you. It is all smoke and mirrors (the pun is intended - oh so funny).

    Now go read 1984 by Orwell, then read Brave New World by Huxley. Then go get some aluminium foil and a stack hat. Cover the stack hat with the foil to stop them knowing your thoughts. U'm, if you're actually thinking of doing the last bit then you really really should stop taking drugs.

    Good luck getting your police record. Let us know how you go. I reckon they will put more obstacles in front of you. But try.

    You are living in a police state, but don't bother moving to NSW because they are just as bad here. And next time they come knocking on your door, for Christ's sake don't mention me...
     
  10. Fellow Comrade

    Fellow Comrade Active Member

    Joined:
    18 February 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    lol. Thanks for the response. I'll try and avoid the tin foil hat idea I think... at least until the aliens arrive... :D

    But yeah, I always figured if someone lacks a conviction or a criminal history, there could still be other records relating to various levels of criminality or potential criminality, some kind of mark against their name, as you've spoken about in your story about the beach party. It's unfortunate that there are little to no methods for citizens to identify these kinds of things and rectify possible errors.

    It seems to me people are considered good or various degrees of bad, according to the state, without as little as a conversation. It's like a bunch of people, born on the same earth as you and me, feel they have a special right to enforce what they believe to be righteous, wholesome living onto others. I don't know the police who helped themselves to my belongings but, even if i did, i wouldn't dare delve into their personal communications records, invade their family homes with an associate, wearing vests, carrying weapons, then search the rooms they grew up in for illicit substances. That would be a little bit rude when considering ordinary human interaction. People simply don't do this to each other. Oh well.

    I'll have to wait until payday to apply for my criminal history because it costs $53 and I'm a student. Money is not our strong point. I'll probably post back here if there's anything interesting on it or more hoops I have to jump through.

    Btw, Orwell's 1984 was a great read, I'm yet to read Huxley's Brave New World, but I hear it's named so often that I think I'll make it my next book.
     

Share This Page

Loading...