Your trash is not protected from warrantless searches, MN Supreme Court says


No, police in Minnesota don't need a search warrant to dig through your trash.

So says the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ruled today that the state's constitution does not protect against warrantless searches of garbage set out for collection in public areas.

According to court documents, the legal challenge arose from a 2012 case in which David McMurray, of Hutchison, argued that his trash had been searched illegally by police after they'd received reports of drug use at his residence.

McMurray, who was eventually found guilty of third-degree possession of a controlled substance, appealed his case with the argument that Minnesota's constitution provides greater protection in such cases than the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which protects against "unreasonable searches and seizures").

The justices point out that the U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that citizens have "no reasonable expectation of privacy" when it concerns trash left in public, and that the Minnesota's constitution addresses the matter in "substantially similar" terms.

Still, McMurray asked the state Supreme Court to interpret the state's constitution differently, according to the opinion.

The court did not oblige him, but two of the justices disagreed with their colleagues – Justices David Lillehaug and Alan Page were the dissenting voices, according to the Associated Press.

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