Investigation of Offences
48.—(1) This section applies to an offence under any provision of this Act for which a person of full age and capacity and not previously convicted may be punished by imprisonment for a term of five years or by a more severe penalty and to an attempt to commit any such offence.
(2) A judge of the District Court, on hearing evidence on oath given by a member of the Garda Síochána, may, if he or she is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that evidence of, or relating to the commission of, an offence to which this section applies is to be found in any place, issue a warrant for the search of that place and any persons found there.
(3) A warrant under this section shall be expressed and shall operate to authorise a named member of the Garda Síochána, alone or accompanied by such other persons as may be necessary—
(a) to enter, within 7 days from the date of issuing of the warrant (if necessary by the use of reasonable force), the place named in the warrant,
(b) to search it and any persons found there,
(c) to examine, seize and retain any thing found there, or in the possession of a person present there at the time of the search, which the member reasonably believes to be evidence of or relating to the commission of an offence to which this section applies, and
(d) to take any other steps which may appear to the member to be necessary for preserving any such thing and preventing interference with it.
(4) The authority conferred by subsection (3)(c) to seize and retain any thing includes, in the case of a document or record, authority—
(a) to make and retain a copy of the document or record, and
(b) where necessary, to seize and, for as long as necessary, retain any computer or other storage medium in which any record is kept.
(5) A member of the Garda Síochána acting under the authority of a warrant under this section may—
(a) operate any computer at the place which is being searched or cause any such computer to be operated by a person accompanying the member for that purpose, and
(b) require any person at that place who appears to the member to have lawful access to the information in any such computer—
(i) to give to the member any password necessary to operate it,
(ii) otherwise to enable the member to examine the information accessible by the computer in a form in which the information is visible and legible, or
(iii) to produce the information in a form in which it can be removed and in which it is, or can be made, visible and legible.
(6) Where a member of the Garda Síochána has entered premises in the execution of a warrant issued under this section, he may seize and retain any material, other than items subject to legal privilege, which is likely to be of substantial value (whether by itself or together with other material) to the investigation for the purpose of which the warrant was issued.
(7) The power to issue a warrant under this section is in addition to and not in substitution for any other power to issue a warrant for the search of any place or person.
(8) In this section, unless the context otherwise requires—
“commission”, in relation to an offence, includes an attempt to commit the offence;
“computer at the place which is being searched” includes any other computer, whether at that place or at any other place, which is lawfully accessible by means of that computer;
“place” includes a dwelling;
“thing” includes an instrument (within the meaning of Part 4), a copy of such instrument, a document or a record.