Homeless people have a right to privacy in their possessions

Posted September 2012 in Civil Rights by Sharon Lopez

In September 2012 The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction that prohibited the City of Los Angeles from seizing the property of homeless people who had temporarily left the items unattended.   In upholding the district court’s ruling the Ninth Circuit held law enforcement could not take the possessions without a reasonable belief that the property was abandoned, presented an immediate threat to public health or safety or was evidence of a crime or contraband.    The appellate court also required the City of Los Angeles to protect seized property for at least 90 days.  The homeless individuals would leave their belongings on the street, referred to as Skid Row, so they could engage in daily tasks like showering, eating, and using restrooms. The full opinion is available for download on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Web Site.  

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