Your neighbor Dan has recently been arrested and charged with manufacture and possession of methamphetamine in violation of your state’s law. The charges are based on evidence that police officers found in Dan’s garbage can, including glass bottles and jars, metal cans, plastic tubing, empty Pseudoephedrine cardboard boxes, and household use batteries with residue matching the chemical compounds of methamphetamine. Dan placed the garbage can at the curb for weekly garbage pickup. A police officer riding with the garbage truck driver picked up Dan’s garbage; Dan’s garbage was kept separated from all other garbage.
Based on the items found in Dan’s garbage can, police officers prepared and obtained a search warrant to search Dan’s house where they found additional evidence of illegal narcotics.
Dan’s attorney plans on filing a motion in court, asking the court to suppress/exclude the evidence found in Dan’s garbage can on the basis that the police officers violated Dan’s Fourth Amendment rights when they took his garbage. Will Dan’s attorney be successful?
Write a paper that addresses the following legal issues. Be sure to support your discussion and comments with research:
- Explain whether the wording of “persons, house, papers and effects” in the Fourth Amendment applies to Dan’s garbage.
- Has there been a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment in this case? In other words, was there a search or seizure of Dan’s garbage that triggers Fourth Amendment issues?
- Does Dan have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in his garbage can sitting at the curb? Why or why not?
- Discuss whether you feel that the judge properly issued the search warrant for Dan’s house. In other words, what is the standard of proof for police officers to obtain a warrant? Be sure to define probable cause.