Understanding Your Rights When It Comes to a Drug Dog Search
If you go to the airport or a train station, you may see an officer escorting a police dog around. The K-9 is likely on duty, sniffing for illegal substances. The dog will alert the handler if they detect drugs or other unlawful things like explosives. You may wonder, however, whether these dogs have the right to search you, your vehicle, or your property.
At Maverick Ray & Associates, we are unyielding criminal defense attorneys who passionately represent our clients. We take on the toughest cases and win. As trial lawyers, we know what it takes to secure justice and we do not give up. If you were arrested for a drug crime or other offense, contact our office at +12819472007 to schedule a free consultation.
Are Drug Sniffing Dogs Legal?
Dogs have been used by law enforcement for decades. Breeds like German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and Labrador Retrievers are commonly trained to work with a handler. Their main job is to detect illegal substances such as drugs and explosives. Some dogs also help with tracking fleeing suspects.
While the fourth amendment protects you from unlawful searches and seizures, searches by drug-sniffing dogs do not always fall into this category. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision in the United States v. Place that a sniff search by a trained narcotics canine did not constitute a search. Therefore, drug dogs performing sniff searches at the airport do not violate a person’s fourth amendment rights.
Can a Dog Search My Property?
The rules regarding traffic stops and the use of drug dogs are evolving. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision placed certain limitations on what would be considered excessive detainment while someone waits for a drug dog.
First, an officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for a traffic stop. Without reasonable suspicion, the traffic stop would be invalid. Furthermore, an officer cannot search your vehicle without probable cause, a warrant, or your consent. This is why you should never consent to a search of your car.
Finally, the officer cannot hold you for an excessive period of time in order to call for a drug dog. In 2015, in a decision written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the use of a drug dog after an officer had completed the initial traffic stop was unlawful because it exceeded a reasonable amount of time.
The case, Rodriguez v. United States meant that it would be considered a violation of a person’s fourth amendment rights if bringing a drug dog in would “extend the stop’s duration.” Rodriguez has been cited in numerous cases regarding unlawful drug dog sniff searches during traffic stops.
Were You Arrested for a Drug Crime?
If you were arrested for a drug crime in Houston, TX, or the surrounding area, contact our office. Call +12819472007 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. The laws involving drug dog searches continue to evolve. If a drug dog’s alert was used as probable cause for your arrest, you need to speak with an attorney now. Call our office to get started.