Protecting Your Rights In Indiana Since 1915

When can the police look in your trash?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Criminal Defense

If the police are investigating you, whether you’re aware of the investigation or not, they may want to look in your trash. Perhaps they think you’ve been throwing away potential sources of evidence. For example, if the police believe that you are involved in drug trafficking, they may look for rolling papers, plastic baggies and other drug paraphernalia.

But if you looked outside and saw two police officers digging through your trash, it may feel like a violation of your privacy rights. Is it legal for the police to search your trash without your permission or consent? When can they do so?

It depends on the location

The big thing to remember is that you do have an expectation of privacy on your own property. So the police can’t come onto your property to search your trash – unless they get a warrant allowing them to do so. If that trash is in your house, in your garage or even just in an outdoor bin somewhere on your property, it is likely off-limits for the police.

But this all changes when that trash gets thrown away. Once the bin has been rolled out to be picked up at the side of the road, for example, police officers are free to look at it whenever they want. In fact, officers could even pick up the trash and take it away to examine at another location. By removing the material from your personal property, you have also removed your expectation of privacy.

This is just one of the ways that police officers can gather evidence. It’s important to know how the process works and what criminal defense options you have at this time.