SUPREME COURT HEARS CHALLENGES TO DRUG SNIFFING POLICE DOGS
TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON - Today the Supreme Court heard two cases involving drug-sniffing police dogs and the Fourth Amendment.
The first case, Florida v. Joelis Jardines questions whether a sniff by a narcotics trained police dog at the front door of a suspected grow house constituted a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, thus requiring a warrant.
The justices questions in this case revolved around the definition of the “legitimate expectation of privacy.” They inquired about the limitations of a police officer to go onto a person’s property, knock and ask questions. All sides agreed that this is common and homeowners could expect that police may do this. The inquiry expanded to whether bringing the dog was outside a homeowner’s expectations.
Justice Scalia made many efforts to equate the police actions to an officer going onto a person’s property and looking inside with binoculars – which would be a search. Scalia focused on the intentions of the police officer, whether the officer’s intent in going on the property with the dog was to detect drugs. He argued that this would more likely be a search under the Fourth Amendment. The other justices seemed to take issue with Scalia’s intent standard, arguing that the actions of the police officer are the crucial facts that should determine the case before them.
In the second case, Florida v. Harris, the court heard arguments as to whether an alert by a trained police dog constituted probable cause within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, justifying a further search of a vehicle.
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