Police have a lot of power when investigating alleged criminal activity.
If they suspect an individual may be involved in the distribution of illegal
drugs, they will often conduct extensive investigations into the suspect.
Despite these powers, police must still adhere to the rights afforded
to citizens in the U.S. Constitution, specifically protections against
searches and seizures that would violate the Fourth Amendment.
Dogs Being Used to Establish Probable Cause
A recent Supreme Court case addressed the use of drug-detecting dogs to
establish probable cause to search a vehicle in a Florida traffic stop.
After the officer pulled a motorist over, the man was observed demonstrating
signs that were consistent with drug use. The officer asked the man for
permission to search his vehicle, which was refused.
The officer then led a drug-detecting dog around the truck to see if the
dog alerted to the presence of any drugs. The dog indicated on the vehicle's
door handle, a place where drug residue is frequently found. Based upon
this hit, the man's vehicle was searched, and drugs were found.
The man was charged with several
drug crimes, but the lower courts ruled that the dog's alert was not enough to
give the officer probable cause to search the man's vehicle. They
had ruled that the officer needed to establish a success rate in order
to rely upon its indications.
In this case, the officer did not record evidence of the dog's failed
alerts. The officer only recorded instances where the dog alerted, and
then a subsequent arrest for a drug crime was made.
The defense had argued that police should not be relying on these dogs
to supply the probable cause necessary to search a motorist's vehicle,
as officers could give the dog subtle clues in an effort to get the dog
to indicate drugs are present.
The Court's Ruling
However, the Court disagreed with this logic, stating that if one of these
dogs had received the proper training, that alerts could be used to establish
the probable cause necessary to perform the search. The dog in this case
had received sufficient training, so the Court concluded that the alert
This ruling could drastically impact the number of individuals being charged
with drug crimes. If officers suspect that drugs may be present, they
may bring these dogs to the scene simply to see if they find anything.
Get in Touch with The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller
These are cases with very serious consequences. If you find yourself facing
drug charges, speak to an experienced
Virginia Beach criminal defense attorney about your options. You need to know what you can do to present a strong
defense to these accusations.
A conviction may jeopardize several aspects of your life, including your
ability to work in certain professions. The penalties will only increase
for additional criminal convictions, so pleading guilty will not necessarily
allow you to put the case behind you quickly.
Receive the aggressive defense you need in Virginia Beach by calling The
Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller -