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Searching Garbage Case Law

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  • Searching Garbage Case Law

    Hello,

    I need some help finding case law on searching garbage. I seem to remember (and this may have changed) that even though its placed on the curb for pick-up, you still need a search warrant to seize it. The only exception is if the items you are looking for are in plain view.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Regards,
    C

  • #2
    Garbage Case Law

    Originally posted by cblackthorne View Post
    Hello,

    I need some help finding case law on searching garbage. I seem to remember (and this may have changed) that even though its placed on the curb for pick-up, you still need a search warrant to seize it. The only exception is if the items you are looking for are in plain view.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Regards,
    C
    Negative: You can search it, and do so without a warrant. I can't give you the exact case citing, but the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on the matter. Essentially, when you place trash in the container, and take it to the curb, or side of the road, you have "abandoned" the contents of the trash can. The term "abandon" is critical, as it is that act which permits the warrantless search. You'll sometimes hear Cops talk about "dumpster dives, trash dives" or similiar terms. This is what they're talking about. Anything in that receptacle is fair game, and if it pertains to a crime, can be seized and used as evidence.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by cblackthorne View Post
      I need some help finding case law on searching garbage. I seem to remember (and this may have changed) that even though its placed on the curb for pick-up, you still need a search warrant to seize it. The only exception is if the items you are looking for are in plain view.
      Try California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988).

      The Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home.
      Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.

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      • #4
        Garbage Case Law

        Just got two more case citings PM.

        1).USvsColbert 475 F 2nd 174-176 (5th Circuit 1973)
        2).USvs Jacobson 466 US 109-113 1984.

        Hope these help

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        • #5
          Yep, abandoned property, yours for the taking.
          Moooooooooooo, I'm a goat

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          • #6
            dang, beat me to it. just learned that stuff in class

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            • #7
              Thanks for all the help.

              I remember the Greenwood case and after reading it I must have been thinking of the dissenting opinion.

              Regards,
              C

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              • #8
                Just remember to search your states case law as some states DO require a warrant to search trash left at the curb. VT is one of them.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cblackthorne View Post
                  Hello,

                  I need some help finding case law on searching garbage. I seem to remember (and this may have changed) that even though its placed on the curb for pick-up, you still need a search warrant to seize it. The only exception is if the items you are looking for are in plain view.

                  Any help would be appreciated.

                  Regards,
                  C
                  No, by the U.S. and Arkansas Constitutions I wouldn't need a warrant. It's been discarded thus it no longer has a reasonable expectation of privacy. It's this REOP that more or less prevents us from searching and seizing.

                  Surely, you've seen some episode of CSI, for it happens a lot (I don't like those shows), where a suspect spits out some gum in the interview room trash can and the CSI people get DNA off of it. Comical but you could legally do it because the suspect discarded it and it lost the REOP.

                  Comment

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