You love your home so much. And you love your privacy too. As such, it goes without saying that you wouldn’t appreciate someone invading your privacy without your approval, let alone in search of evidence that they can use against you in a court of law.
However, if the police are investigating you for a crime, they might come to your home and do just that – search your property for evidence. Depending on the circumstances of your case, they might do this without a search warrant. But, with or without a warrant, can the police search your trash bin?
What does the law say?
The U.S. Constitution offers several protections against government overreach. One of these is protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Basically, this means that law enforcement cannot search and seize your property without probable cause. It also means that, with a few exceptions, the police must first obtain a warrant before they can search and seize your property.
So how does this apply to your trash bin? Well, most people do not treat trash as personal property. However, it is as far as the law is concerned. Any evidence that is seized within your place of residence or work (whether it is in your safe or trash bin) is treated as evidence in your possession and can, thus, be used against you in court.
However, the validity of a trash bin search generally depends on the location of the bin and its content. Evidence from the trash bin can be used against you under the following circumstances:
- When the trash bin was set on the sidewalk or curb directly in front of your home during the search
- When the bin was kept in your, yard at the time of the search
- When the trash was communal (shared by multiple tenants in an apartment block)
If you are under investigation for a crime, you need to protect your rights. Learning more about your constitutional rights can help you protect yourself from unlawful searches and seizures.