Without a warrant, the police typically cannot go into your house, even if they would like to carry out an investigation. They need to have enough reason to go before a judge and get a warrant, or they need your consent to enter the home. This is considered to be your private property and you have a right to that privacy.
But say that the police cannot get a warrant because there’s no reason for one, and they still want to look for evidence. They know that you’re going to put your trash out over the weekend so that it can get picked up for collection. Can they go through it, or do they need a warrant for that as well?
Where is the trash located?
The big question here is simply where the trash bin is located at the time that they search it. If it’s on your private property – in your garage, for example – then they cannot go through it because you still have a right to privacy. You expect that to be upheld as long as your trash is somewhere that isn’t in plain view.
However, if you’ve taken it out for collection and left the bin by the road, then you no longer have any expectation of privacy in regards to that trash. A police officer can come by and go through it looking for evidence. They may even simply pick the trash bin up or take the contents with them. They are allowed to search your trash in this manner.
As the investigation moves forward, it’s critical that you understand your criminal defense options.