Are the police allowed to search and seize my trash without my permission?

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Are the police allowed to search and seize my trash without my permission?

Asked on July 14, 2013 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A search of trash will not constitute an illegal search and seizure. The US Supreme Court has held that the police can search and seize "abandoned" property. Once items have been thrown into a garbage can and placed on the street (as opposed to remaining on a person's property), it is considered abandoned and anyone can look through it and claim ownership. In other word's the person whose trash that it was no longer has any "expectation of privacy".

Note: If your garbage is combined with garbage from neighbor's, the police must still show that the items found came from your house.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you place your trash ouside on the street, under the laws of all states in this country you have no justfiable expectation of privacy. As such, law enforcement can search and seize your trash absent your permission to do so.


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