Citation. California v. Greenwood, 1987 U.S. LEXIS 2932, 483 U.S. 1019, 107 S. Ct. 3260, 97 L. Ed. 2d 760, 55 U.S.L.W. 3871 (U.S. June 26, 1987)
Brief Fact Summary. The respondent, Greenwood (the “respondent”ť), was arrested for narcotics trafficking based upon evidence obtained as a result of a police search of his trash. The California Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of charges on the ground that the California Constitution declared such searches as unconstitutional. The State petitioned for review.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An expectation of privacy does not give rise to Fourth Amendment constitutional protection unless society is prepared to accept that expectation as objectively reasonable.
Police with the Laguna Beach Police Department received information that the respondent might be trafficking narcotics. The police asked the regular trash collector to gather the respondent’s trash and keep it separate from the other trash in the neighborhood, so that it might be examined for evidence of narcotics trafficking. Evidence was found in the garbage, and a search warrant was issued to search the respondent’s house based upon that evidence. Police searched the respondent’s house and arrested him after discovering narcotics. Respondent posted bail. The police continued to receive reports of narcotics trafficking at the respondent’s house. A second search of the respondent’s trash was conducted and again a search warrant was issued in which more narcotics were found in the house. The respondent was again arrested. The Superior Court dismissed the charges stating that warrantless searches of trash violated the Fourth Amendment and the California Constitution. T
he Court of Appeals affirmed, and the California Supreme Court denied the State’s petition for review. Certiorari was granted. Issue.
Whether a person has a subjective expectation of privacy in their garbage that society accepts as objectively reasonable?