Denver, CO asked in Constitutional Law for Colorado

Q: IS IT LEGAL FOR POLICE TO SEARCH YOUR TRASH?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Michael J. Laszlo
Michael J. Laszlo
Answered
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Boulder, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: The Police generally cannot search your home without a warrant. The Supreme Court of Colorado has held that "Home and office occupants who place trash in nontransparent trash bags for collection do so for the limited purpose of waste collection and disposal and do not thereby intend to surrender their privacy interest in the trash so as to permit or authorize a police search of the bags containing the trash ... Simply stated, the mere possibility that some member of the public or a trash collector might search one's nontransparent and tied or otherwise secured trash bags should not be the basis for authorizing similar activity by governmental officials." People v. Hillman, 834 P.2d 1271, 1282 (Colo. 1992).

Therefore, the answer to your question would depend on whether the police had a warrant to search the trash, and whether the trash was in a non-see-through, securely closed bag.

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