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CRIMPRO DIGESTS G01 TOPIC: Enhanced Senses and Reasonable expectation of privacy: Garbage search


110) CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD ET AL, 486 U.S. 35 (1988) seizure of his garbage was impermissible as a matter of California law under
White, J. Krivda which he contends survived the state constitutional amendment.

ISSUE: Whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits the warrantless search and seizure HELD:
of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home. -NO The Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure
of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home. Since
FACTS: respondents voluntarily left their trash for collection in an area particularly
1. Acting on information indicating that respondent Greenwood might be engaged in suited for public inspection, their claimed expectation of privacy in the
narcotics trafficking, police twice obtained from his regular trash collector garbage inculpatory items they discarded was NOT objectively reasonable. It is
bags left on the curb in front of his house. On the basis of items in the bags which common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left along a public street are
were indicative of narcotics use, the police obtained warrants to search the house, readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other
discovered controlled substances during the searches, and arrested respondents members of the public. Moreover, respondents placed their refuse at the curb
on felony narcotics charges. for the express purpose of conveying it to a third party, the trash collector, who
o (1st) Investigator Stracner of the Laguna Beach Police Department received might himself have sorted through it or permitted others, such as the police,
information indicating that respondent Greenwood might be engaged in to do so. The police cannot reasonably be expected to avert their eyes from
narcotics trafficking hence, sought to investigate this information by evidence of criminal activity that could have been observed by any member of
conducting a surveillance of Greenwoods home. the public.
o Investigator asked the neighborhoods regular trash collector to pick up the
plastic garbage bags that Greenwood had left on the curb in front of his house As previously held: Katz v. United States - [w]hat a person knowingly exposes
and to turn the bags over to her without mixing their contents with garbage to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth
from other houses. Amendment protection.; Smith v. Maryland - a person has no legitimate
o Officer searched through the rubbish and found items indicative of narcotics expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.;
use. She recited the information that she had gleaned from the trash search California v. Ciraolo that the police were not required by the Fourth
in an affidavit in support of a warrant to search Greenwoods home. Amendment to obtain a warrant before conducting surveillance of the
o In executing the warrant, the police discovered quantities of cocaine and respondents fenced backyard from a private plane flying at an altitude of
hashish during their search of the house. Respondents were arrested on 1,000 feet
felony narcotics charges.
o (2nd) After they posted bail, police continued to receive reports so Respondents exposed their garbage to the public sufficiently to defeat their
Greenwoods garbage was obtained and again contained evidence of claim to Fourth Amendment protection. Having deposited their garbage in an
narcotics use so another search warrant was secured based on the area particularly suited for public inspection, respondents could have had no
information from the second trash search. The police found more narcotics reasonable expectation of privacy in the inculpatory items that they discarded.
and evidence of narcotics trafficking when they executed the warrant.
Greenwood was again arrested. The judgment of the California Court of Appeal is therefore REVERSED, and
2. Superior Court dismissed the charges against respondents on the authority of this case is REMANDED for further proceedings not inconsistent with this
People v. Krivda which held that warrantless trash searches violate the Fourth opinion.
Amendment and the California Constitution; that the police would not have had
probable cause to search the Greenwood home without the evidence obtained
from the trash searches. NOTE:
3. State Court of Appeal affirmed on the ground that Krivda was based on federal, as Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides, "[t]he right of the
well as state, law. people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
4. Respondent Greenwood et al. assert that against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and
o they had an expectation of privacy with respect to the trash that was no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
searched by the police; that the trash was only temporarily on the street, and affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
there was little likelihood that it would be inspected by anyone and they did persons or things to be seized."
not expect that the contents of their garbage bags would become known to
the police or other members of the public;
o his expectation of privacy in his garbage should be deemed reasonable as a
matter of federal constitutional law because the warrantless search and