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Can the police go through your trash for evidence?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Everyone values their privacy, and sometimes law enforcement may be intrusive when looking for evidence. For instance, many consider their trash somewhat personal since it can tell a lot about their activities.

Suppose the police go through your trash and find drugs or other contraband. Yes. The Fourth Amendment protects you from an unreasonable search and seizure of your property. But how does that play out when police look through what you had essentially disposed of?

Did you have a reasonable expectation of privacy?

The location of the trash can help determine if you had an expected degree of privacy. For example, if the garbage was at the dumpster or outside your house at the curb where everyone has access, the police can legally go through it. However, if you had stored the trash inside your compound or around your house, it means that you expected a reasonable degree of privacy. The police have no right to search the trash if that’s the case.

The evidence may be inadmissible

In the end, it all boils down to the legality of the evidence. Suppose the police searched your trash without a warrant or probable cause in violation of your rights. It means that the evidence obtained from that unlawful act cannot be admitted in court.

Remember, the prosecution has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Without key evidence, your case is not likely to hold, thereby increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.

Know your rights

It is important to be aware of and safeguard your legal rights throughout the trial. If you believe your rights were infringed upon at any point from arrest to prosecution, it is necessary to take action. It might make all the difference for your case.