Both state and federal laws protect residents of Minnesota from unreasonable searches and seizures. How does that apply to something like your trash?
If you think that your right to privacy extends all the way to the dump, you would be sadly mistaken.
Minnesota made the definitive ruling: Your privacy ends where the curb begins
The question came to a head in 2015 when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the state’s constitution doesn’t provide any additional privacy rights over those afforded by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling was prompted by a 2012 case where the police raided a Hutchinson’s resident’s trash for evidence of drugs. Meth was found, and the police then used that evidence to secure a warrant to search the man’s home — where more drugs were found. That ultimately led to his conviction on a drug crime.
The man appealed his conviction on the basis that the warrantless search of his trash was an unreasonable violation of his privacy. The majority of the court ultimately disagreed, saying that once the trash was set on the curb for pickup, the expectation of privacy was gone. The trash is then “fair game” for a warrantless search.
However, in their dissent, two justices pointed out that this actually gives the police a very broad ability to use what they find in someone’s trash to get a warrant for a search inside that person’s house. With today’s technology, they can even obtain DNA evidence from someone’s trash without a warrant.
When you’re under investigation for a federal crime, get help
You may already be conscious of the fact that you’re being investigated by federal agents on suspicion of criminal activity. If you are, every move you make will be heavily scrutinized.
This is the time — before you’re indicted or charged — to speak with an experienced attorney.