Court: Drug Dog Sniff is Unconstitutional Search

Comments: Comments Are Disabled  | Leave A Comment
  • advertisement
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police cannot bring drug-sniffing police dogs onto a suspect’s property to look for evidence without first getting a warrant for a search, a decision which may limit how investigators use dogs’ sensitive noses to search out drugs, explosives and other items hidden from human sight, sound and smell.

    The high court split 5-4 on the decision to uphold the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling throwing out evidence seized in the search of Joelis Jardines’ Miami-area house. That search was based on an alert by Franky the drug dog from outside the closed front door.

    Justice Antonin Scalia said a person has the Fourth Amendment right to be free from the government’s gaze inside their home and in the area surrounding it, which is called the curtilage.

    “The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home,” Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority. “And the officers here had all four of their feet and all four of their companion’s, planted firmly on that curtilage — the front porch is the classic example of an area intimately associated with the life of the home.”

    He was joined in his opinion by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

    On the morning of Dec. 5, 2006, Miami-Dade police detectives and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents set up surveillance outside a house south of the city after getting an anonymous tip that it might contain a marijuana growing operation. Detective Douglas Bartelt arrived with Franky and the two went up to the house, where Franky quickly detected the odor of pot at the base of the front door and sat down as he was trained to do.

    That sniff was used to get a search warrant from a judge. The house was searched and its lone occupant, Jardines, was arrested trying to escape out the back door. Officers pulled 179 live marijuana plants from the house, with an estimated street value of more than $700,000.

    Jardines was charged with marijuana trafficking and grand theft for stealing electricity needed to run the highly sophisticated operation. He pleaded not guilty and his attorney challenged the search, claiming Franky’s sniff outside the front door was an unconstitutional law enforcement intrusion into the home.

    1 2Next page »

    • More Related Content

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 2,166 other followers