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Is your trash protected from police searches?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2022 | Criminal Defense

You expect some privacy within your home and on your property. You know that police officers can’t just look wherever they want or even enter your home without your permission – or a warrant. What you decide to do on your own property is your business and should stay private, and this is an expectation that all Americans have.

However, it’s important to understand exactly how this works and how the police sometimes attempt to get around it. For example, the items that you’ve put in your trash are covered by this expectation of privacy as long as they remain on your property. But removing them from that property also removes this expectation. 

So something as simple as rolling your trash bin out to the side of the road so that it can be picked up by the garbage truck in the morning could be enough to allow the police to go through those items. But, there’s more you should know.

Why would the police search your trash?

The police often search in the trash when they don’t have enough evidence to enter the property. They suspect that the individual is breaking the law in some way, and they believe they will find evidence of that criminal behavior if they can search the home. But they don’t have consent to do so and they do not yet have a warrant.

But the items that they find in the trash may be enough to get a judge to issue them a warrant. Even if these items would never be enough to convict you of any criminal charges, they may be enough to allow a more thorough search of your property. The police simply view your trash as a potential way in without your consent.

If you do find yourself involved in a criminal investigation, you always need to know what legal options you have.