Posted by 10 May 2019
If the police want to search your trash in Oregon, they are going to need a warrant.
The State Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the state constitution protects individuals’ expectation of privacy, and that individuals expect their garbage to remain private. It was a 6-1 decision.
The case concerned a couple from Lebanon, Oregon, who were convicted of drug crimes resulting from police searching their trash. The police had worked with the couple’s trash collector to divert the trash and search it, where they found evidence of drug activity.
Oregonians may be free from the fear of warrantless trash searches, but this decision does not extend nationwide. The state court ruled that the state constitution has this level of privacy protection. The U.S. Supreme Court has found differently for the U.S. Constitution. In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution’s ban on warrantless search and seizure does not apply to trash left outside the home. In that decision, California v. Greenwood, a 6-2 majority ruled that if someone leaves garbage outside to be picked up for removal, then that person has relinquished all expectations of privacy for the contents of the trash.
Do you think that the police should be able to search someone’s garbage without a warrant?