CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
86-684
Petitioner 
California
Respondent 
Greenwood
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(By appointment of the Court, argued the cause for the respondents)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Local police suspected Billy Greenwood was dealing drugs from his residence. Because the police did not have enough evidence for a warrant to search his home, they searched the garbage bags Greenwood had left at the curb for pickup. The police uncovered evidence of drug use, which was then used to obtain a warrant to search the house. That search turned up illegal substances, and Greenwood was arrested on felony charges.

Question 

Did the warrantless search and seizure of Greenwood's garbage violate the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure guarantee?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for California, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

Voting 6 to 2, the Court held that garbage placed at the curbside is unprotected by the Fourth Amendment. The Court argued that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy for trash on public streets "readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public." The Court also noted that the police cannot be expected to ignore criminal activity that can be observed by "any member of the public."

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CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1987/1987_86_684/>.
CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1987/1987_86_684/ (last visited November 26, 2014).
"CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 26, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1987/1987_86_684/.