The right to one’s privacy on their persons and in their houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures is one of our most fundamental rights. But a question that has consistently challenged that right is: when does one’s discarded property cease being protected by privacy expectations?
That question has been settled in Oregon after the State’s Supreme Court recently ruled on a 2014 case involving a warrantless search of a suspect’s garbage. The evidence gained therein led to convictions for methamphetamine production.
From the Willamette Week:
“The court examined an issue which had come to it at least twice previously: whether such a seizure and examination of citizens’ garbage violated the citizens’ constitutional rights to privacy.
In a 6 to 1 decision, the court ruled that the Lebanon search was improper. That ruling changes the ground rules on how police obtain garbage in criminal cases and harks back to a high-profile dispute over the issue in Portland.
In 2002, Portland police seized and searched the garbage of a female Police Bureau officer suspected of illegal drug use. They sent one of her used tampons to the lab and after finding evidence of cocaine and meth, obtained a search warrant for her home. The search set off a legal skirmish and local officials defended PPB’s regular practice of what they called “garbage pulls.””
The Oregon Supreme Court full opinion can be found HERE.
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