[Chat] trash picking

Dale Ghent daleg at elemental.org
Wed Jun 1 15:40:25 EDT 2005

On Jun 1, 2005, at 3:37 PM, Linda Forlifer wrote:

> I've seen articles in the newspaper about the "authorities" (police,
> FBI, etc.) using things they found in trash in court cases.  It was
> determined by the courts that, once trash is put out for  
> collection, it
> no longer belongs to the individual.  No one's privacy rights are
> violated when trash is searched, as I understand it.

Situations like this have been tested in a few state supreme courts.

One case involved a man who was arrested after the trashman picked up  
the man's trash and noticed cocaine residue on or in the bags. The  
trashman called the police, who use that as a reason to get a  
warrant. The police searched the man's house and found a pound of  

This act was contested all the way up to the North Carolina Supreme  
Court. The court ruled that police were okay to use the man's trash  
(and no warrant was needed to search it) because it had already been  
picked up by the man's trash hauler on a norm trash pickup day. The  
trash wasn't his property anymore and so no rights (trespass,  
unlawful search by police) were violated.

Now, had the police searched the man's trash BEFORE it was picked up  
by the trash man, then that would be a different story. The man's  
garbage would have still been the man's property, and the police  
would need a warrant or the man's permission to search it.

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