Did you know the police can go through your trash?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2022 | Criminal Defense

As a general rule, you have an expectation of privacy in your home. Without a warrant or consent, the police cannot come into your house to search around. They may be able to look at items that are in plain view on your property, but anything in your home is generally kept private.

This includes your trash and all the items that you recycle or throw away. And they remain private as long as they are in your house. But, as soon as you bring them out to the side of the road to get picked up, then the police are allowed to go through them without a warrant or your consent.

Why does the rule change once the trash hits the curb?

The difference is simply that, from a legal perspective, you don’t have an expectation of privacy over items that are put out in the open. Rolling your trash bin out to the side of the street means that it is fair game for anyone to see, so the police can look in it if they would like to do so. They may do this in order to seek evidence, which could help them get a warrant so that they can come into your house, even if you don’t want to give them consent.

You can see how all of this is connected and how your privacy rights may not be quite as wide-reaching as you assumed. Even making a simple mistake can have a drastic impact on your case. It’s very important that you are always well aware of the rights that you have and what the authorities are allowed to do. This is especially true if you’ve been arrested and you feel like they violated your rights during the arrest or while they were gathering the evidence.