8113 – One Man’s Trash is a Policeman’s Treasure


If you stash grass in your trash, can they trash your trash to get the grass?  This case began when an informant told a sheriff’s deputy that he’d bought marijuana from Darrin at his home on ten occasions and that Darrin kept a stash of about ten pounds of marijuana, sometimes making sales every 15 minutes.  This caused two agents to go to Darrin’s home where they removed a trash bag from one of his trashcans.  After they found marijuana cigarette butts and other residue, they secured a warrant to search Darrin’s home where they found marijuana, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and cocaine.  Darrin filed a motion to suppress the evidence claiming it was all the fruit of the poisonous tree, that the police had no right to search his trash, in which he had a reasonable expectation of privacy.  But the Court held it’s common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left at the curb are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public, including the police.  As for privacy in your trash, well, the Court basically said that’s rubbish.


Darrin Berekman v. State of Wyoming, Wyoming Supreme Court, No. S-08-0119, February 5, 2009, Waldrip, J.