Your rights when under a search by gardai

Your rights under search 

  • A Garda may search you if they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime. In such a case, you can be searched without your consent.
  • The Gardaí also have power to search you for illegal drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, and bring you to a Garda Station for the search.
  • Before searching you, a Garda must explain to you in plain English why they want to do so. 
  • A member of the same sex must search you if the search consists of more than a pat down over your clothes. Often, a member of the same sex will perform a pat down though.
  • Customs officers have the legal right to search you. Some employers may also have the right to search you if it is written into your contract. However, security personnel never have the right to search you.
  • The Gardaí have the right to search your car or any car you are a passenger in if they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed/are about to commit a certain crime or that you have drugs on you or in the car.
  • You can be searched at home, at work, on the street or in a Garda station.
  • A Garda generally needs a warrant to enter your home to search, but they can occasionally enter your home if they are chasing you and you have escaped to your house, or if they have come to arrest someone in your home. They can also enter your house if they believe someone is committing a crime in your home.
  • A Garda must meet certain conditions when searching your home.
  • They must tell you why they are searching.
  • They are entitled to take any items that could be used for the case.
  • They cannot tell you to remain in a certain room or segment of the house unless you are under arrest.
  • The Gardaí are entitled to look at your computer and even take it away if necessary.
  • You cannot try to prevent the Gardaí from entering your home; doing so could cause you to be charged with a crime such as obstructing the course of justice.
  • It is important to note that security guards do not have any power to search you without your permission, and may only detain you if they believe you have committed an offence and are attempting to avoid arrest by the Gardaí. If a security guard does arrest you, they must transfer you to Gardaí as soon as possible, who may carry out a search if necessary.