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Can the police go through your trash?

Posted by Bulldog Law | Mar 06, 2023 | 0 Comments

You know that you have a right to privacy and that police officers who do not have a warrant or your consent are not allowed to enter your property to search for evidence. There are some exceptions, such as an emergency, but you generally get to keep the things within your home as private as you would like.

However, there are situations in which the police will go through someone's trash to seek evidence. This is legally permissible, but why don't you have an expectation of privacy with your own trash? 

It depends on the location

What you'll find is that the location of the trash makes all of the difference. If it is still within your house, then you do have the same expectation of privacy that you would with anything else. But once you roll your trash bin out to the curb to be picked up the next morning, that means it is on public property and in public view. Your expectation of privacy is now gone, legally speaking, and the police can search that trash if they would like to do so.

Additionally, the police are certainly allowed to look in landfills or garbage dumps for trash that may have been taken away from someone's home. For instance, they may believe that you had evidence on a hard drive that you threw out. If they can obtain this hard drive from the trash, nothing that you put on it is considered private any longer.

It's important to keep things like this in mind if you're facing legal charges. You need to know about your defense options and you also want to avoid any mistakes that could make your position more difficult.

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