Can authority search your trashcan outside of your home without your permission? 26 Answers as of September 19, 2012

Guy got charged with possession, he's on parole. Police went through trashcans and found paraphernalia. Also found an envelope with girlfriends and her mother’s name but nothing with his name. Can they use this information against him?

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Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
Possibly, depending on all the circumstances.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 9/19/2012
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Yes, and yes. If you don't know how to represent yourself effectively against an experienced prosecutor intending to convict, then hire an attorney who does, who will try to get a dismissal, charge reduction, diversion, programs, or other decent outcome through motions, plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/19/2012
James M. Osak, P.C.
James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
YES. If you have something. DO NOT put it in your garbage, put it somewhere else OR destroy it.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/19/2012
Anderson Law Office
Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
Yes, anything on the curb is fair game.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 9/19/2012
Law Office of Michael E. Dailey
Law Office of Michael E. Dailey | Michael E. Dailey
It can depend on the jurisdiction but generally trash by definition is discarded and is no longer the subject of expected privacy. If the trash is in a trash truck or a communal dumpster there is no expectancy of privacy where it is commingled. If however it is still on the property in an individual trash can with a lid, there can be an argument that it is still entitled to expected privacy and could require a warrant. He may have additional problems though because a parole violation is generally considered a civil action and not subject to the criminal rules of search restriction. It still does not seem there is much evidence against him.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 9/19/2012
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Search the trash is normally considered okay under the law, since the person has "abandoned" anything they throw away. I suspect they will be allowed to use this evidence against him.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Yes property put out in the trash is considered abandoned and fair game for a search.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    Yes, law enforcement can use anything they find in the trash. Once the material leaves the house and goes into the trash, it becomes public property with no expectation of privacy.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Jencks Law Firm, PLLC
    Jencks Law Firm, PLLC | Rita Jencks
    According to US Supreme Court case law, you do not have a right to privacy to your garbage after you have placed it in a can outside your home. Sometimes is makes a difference whether it is behind a gate or fence vs. on the street. If the police can tie the illegal items to someone they can charge that person with a crime. Usually whatever they find just leads the police to more evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    This is very fact specific. Under some circumstances the police are permitted to search a trash container without a warrant.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    The answer is still the same. If the trash is out by the curb, the police or anyone else can take it, because it is trash. The police do "trash pulls" all of the time.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Yes if the person discarded it and the state can prove who possessed the paraphernalia.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Yes. Once you place the garbage in a garbage can outside your home, there is no expectation of privacy. My advice, invest in a shredder.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    It is lawful for the authorities to search a trashcan outside the home. One is deemed to have waived any expectation of privacy by placing this trash outside.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Yes, if the trash can isn't located on your private property. Most trash cans sit on the sidewalk, and that's public.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    Yes and Yes. Once the trash is placed by the curb the cops can go through it and can even get a warrant to search the house.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Once you place your trash out on the street it is abandoned property on a public street and anyone, including the police can take it and it can be used against you at trial. That is why you should cross shred all of your documents and not throw out paraphernalia or tin foil with residue, broken crack pipes, plastic bags with drug residue, or other incriminating evidence.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    The Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC
    The Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC | Elizabeth Zwiebel
    Yes, anything in your trash does not have a constitutional right attached to it any longer. So it can be searched.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones | B. Elaine Jones
    Unfortunately, yes the authorities are allowed to search through your trash after you put it out on the curb. There are actual cases like this that have happened before. The theory is you give up your right to privacy in your trash when you set it on the curb for the garbage man or anyone else to pick up.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    The O'Hanlon Law Firm, P.C. | Stephen O'Hanlon
    Yes, it's called open fields doctrine.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    Yes, because trash is considered abandoned property for which owner released title. There may be an issue if police went onto private property to search garbage cans, but no issue if cans on city property by curb.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD | Mace Yampolsky
    Yes. A trashcan is abandoned property.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers
    Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers | Andrew D. Myers
    Yes. Once trash is placed outside, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. There have been high profile divorce cases in which one party grabbed the other party's trash and sifted through looking for evidence which, if otherwise passing the rules of evidence, was admissible in a court of law. In a California drug case, prosecutors went through a private citizen's trash, found evidence of drugs, and, based on that obtained a search warrant which yielded marijuana and cocaine inside the home. California courts dismissed the drug charges holding the warrantless search through the rubbish violated Constitutional protections against warrantless searches and seizures. But, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the California case. The U.S. Supreme Court held that it was "common knowledge" that garbage placed at curbside is "readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops and other members of the public."
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 9/19/2012
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