420 Magazine Background

Newsbrief: State Courts in Indiana, Oregon Restrict Police Garbage Searches

Thread starter #1
While the US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that police do not need a search warrant to search people's trash once it has been placed outside for collection, two recent rulings in state courts will place limits on police in Indiana and Oregon. The Rehnquist Supreme Court has held that police do not need search warrants because people have no reasonable expectation of privacy for their trash once they have left it on the curb -- or inside a low fence, or even 18 feet away from the property line.

In the Indiana case, Litchfield v. State Patrick and Susan May Litchfield were arrested after police digging through their trash found burnt rolling papers and marijuana stems, seed, and leaves. State police got their names from the DEA, Armed with the evidence from the trash search, police got a search warrant and discovered 51 marijuana plants growing inside the couples' home. The state Supreme Court on March 24 threw out their conviction and returned the case to the lower courts to determine if the initial, warrantless garbage search was reasonable.

"The police can no longer, out of curiosity, come out to see what's in your trash," Indianapolis defense attorney Robert Hammerle told the Indianapolis Star after reviewing the ruling. "We now require more of police officers than we do of raccoons."

Raising awareness of the consequences of drug prohibition | Stop the Drug War (DRCNet)