In State v. Wright, the Iowa Supreme Court recently banned warrantless searches of curbside trash. This landmark ruling puts an end to an investigative technique used by police for decades.
The issues before the Iowa Supreme Court were matters of first impression. The drug defense attorneys at GRL Law are the first to ever raise the issue of trespass onto a constitutionally-protected “effect” in Iowa. We are also the first to persuade an Iowa appellate court to find an expectation of privacy in uncollected garbage.
Prior to Wright, police wantonly searched household garbage set out for collection. This was often done under the cover of darkness. No suspicion of criminal activity needed whatsoever. Outright fishing expeditions. Under the old regime, discarded items like stems and seeds in trash provided the basis for a search warrant to get inside the house to poke around.
This ruling also has enormous search and seizure implications moving forward under the Iowa Constitution. Conceivably, it may be extended to other law enforcement tactics during traffic stops, K9 sniffs, knock and talk encounters, drone flights, etc., that have previously been countenanced as lawful police conduct.
GRL Law looks forward to leading the way on trespass.