Do Police Have the Right to Search My Trash?

Under the Fourth Amendment, Americans are given certain rights regarding their property and privacy laws. This amendment states that you are protected by law from having anyone conducting a search and seizure that is "unreasonable" and therefore a violation of your rights. Any form of law enforcement official is required to have probable cause for your being involved with a crime, before they are legally able to search or seize your property. One aspect of property that we may not consider is our trash. Trash often tells much more of a story to those who look closely than we would prefer. Whether it is old receipts or documents, or trash can contain a lot important information. As with any law, there are certain exemptions or loopholes which are why it is important to have a strong understanding ahead of time.

The rights for your trash, however, will vary based on location. If your trash is located inside the house or the garage, the police will need a search warrant in order to look at your trash cans. Another aspect of trash that the police must have a warrant to search is pocket or purse trash. Whether it is your intention or not to toss it out in a public location, as long as it is on your person it is within your right to protect it if they do not have a warrant. Unfortunately, the exemption is that if there is trash out on your curb waiting for pickup, it is now considered to be public property and therefore the police can search it willingly. If is you have been charged with a crime and are looking for a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer, contact the Hopper Law Firm today for the aggressive representation you deserve on your side who will fight for your rights!

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