Law enforcement’s use of drug-sniffing dogs creates a variety of legal issues during a search or an arrest. The most common situation in which a person encounters a drug-sniffing dog is during a traffic stop if the officer believes there are drugs in the car or someone in the car is holding drugs. However, mere contact with a law enforcement officer will not permit the use of a drug-sniffing dog.
In 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officers have a constitutionally permissible basis for a search of a car’s interior if a drug-sniffing dog had alerted during a traffic stop to the presence of drugs. This ruling provided law enforcement with the opportunity to use a drug-sniffing dog on almost any traffic stop as long as the dog could arrive on the stop within a reasonable time. This also created the opportunity for drug-sniffing dogs to come with a law enforcement officer to a home when questioning a suspect in a crime. If the dog alerted while the questioning occurred, then the officers would have a basis to conduct a search of the house.
Last year, the scope of a drug-sniffing dog’s usage changed. The US Supreme Court took a case that involved a drug-sniffing dog who was on the porch of a house and sniffing the front door. The Court ruled that a person’s constitutional rights are violated when a drug-sniffing dog smells around their front door when there is no probable cause for the search or a search warrant that authorizes that action. This ruling represents a huge step to preserving constitutional rights and protecting a person’s activities within their own home.
Situations involving drug-sniffing dogs are ripe for constitutional rights violations, and having an attorney who is experienced in constitutional rights defense will help make sure your rights are protected. Here at Law Office of Chase Harbin, we are experienced in the techniques and procedures law enforcement officers are required to follow when using drug dogs. We know when dogs are permitted to search, to what extent they can search, how to challenge impermissible searches, and how to exclude evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.
If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a crime due to a drug-sniffing dog, please contact us for a free Criminal Defense consultation. The law is ever-changing in this area and we are ready to make sure your constitutional rights do not suffer from improper law enforcement action. Call us today so we can help with the case.
Chase Harbin is a Criminal Defense Lawyer who practices in Pickens and Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 17 years now. Chase Harbin believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.