Common Law Archive

Monday

23

September 2013

0

COMMENTS

Question: Is it legal to sleep in your car?

Written by , Posted in Common Law

Answer:
Many cities have ordinances that prevent sleeping in a car in a public place, including parking lots and streets. This is usually done as a response to a perceived need to regulate activities of homeless people.

For example, Austin, Texas has a “camping ban” that prohibits camping in a public area. The definition of camping in the ordinance includes “using … a vehicle for a living accommodation.” Austin City Code §9-4-11.

This has been interpreted to include sleeping in a car on a public street. As a practical matter, there are not a lot of prosecutions for violations of these types of ordinances, and most people are given a warning and asked to move. In addition, the ordinances generally do not prevent sleeping in a car on your own private property.

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Monday

3

June 2013

0

COMMENTS

Question: Is It Illegal To Go Through Someone’s Trash?

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Answer:

As a general rule, it is legally permissible to go through the trash of another person. However, there are a couple nuances worth noting. First, if the person going through the trash is a police officer or one who is acting on the behalf of a police officer, then United States Supreme Court case law is quite clear: it is legal, constitutional, and not even considered a “search.” (see California v. Greenwood, 486 US 35). The Supreme Court has consistently held that an expectation of privacy does not give rise to Fourth Amendment constitutional protection unless society is prepared to accept that expectation as objectively reasonable. Therefore, since the Court did not believe society was prepared to accept an expectation of privacy in the garbage we put out to the curb for collection as objectively reasonable, it is not unlawful for an officer or his agent to go through such trash. Second, a private citizen will not likely go to jail for simply rummaging through the trash of another person. However, if he does anything that the state he lives in finds unlawful during the course of his rummaging, he could face criminal charges, serious penalties, and even jail time.

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Thursday

11

April 2013

0

COMMENTS

Question: Is it Legal to Record a Conversation in Colorado?

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Answer:

Under Federal law, it’s illegal to record telephone conversations unless you live in a state that permits one party consent, which means that a person can record their own phone conversation without the other party’s consent or knowledge. Colorado is a one party consent state. Calls that cross state lines can be more complicated if the call is being made to or received from a state that requires more than one party to consent to the recording, and in those instances there could be a violation of the state law that requires more than one party to consent, as well as violations of Federal law. There are some different rules that may apply to businesses, and a further inquiry into those regulations should be conducted by businesses considering recording of conversations.

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