Chocolate Labrador looking for his day in court

January 3, 2012
92 Views

Can this dog’s nose violate your Fourth Amendment rights?

Police rely on dogs for assistance in many law enforcement duties.  These highly trained dogs, or K-9’s, are particularly useful in detecting illegal drugs or explosives.  But is their superior sense of smell ever a violation of Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure?  The U.S. Supreme Court has approved such drug sniffs in several situations, including routine traffic stops, airport security, and package inspection.  A recent Florida case, however, used dogs to detect marijuana from outside the closed front door of a private home.  With that information, the police then obtained a search warrant and found a sophisticated marijuana growing operation.  The defendant, Joelis Jardines, claims that the search warrant should not have been issued and the dog sniff violated his Fourth Amendment rights.  Historically, the Supreme Court has provided greater privacy protections of a home compared to a car or suitcase.  State courts have sided with the defendant.   Florida’s attorney general is asking the Supreme Court to consider hearing the case, Florida v Jardines.

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