Jan 062012
 
 January 6, 2012  Court, Featured News, Surveillance

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Florida v. Jardines, a case that presented two questions:

1. Whether a dog sniff at the front door of a suspected grow house by a trained narcotics detection dog is a Fourth Amendment search requiring probable cause?
2. Whether the officers’ conduct during the investigation of the grow house, including remaining outside the house awaiting a search warrant is, itself, a Fourth Amendment search?

Certiorari was granted only for the first question.

Background materials on the case can be found on SCOTUSblog. Lyle Dennison provides a helpful summary of the issues:

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to clarify when police may use a drug-sniffing dog at the front door of a house, when police believe the house is being used in drug trafficking.

… In the drug detection case, Florida v. Jardines (docket 11-564), the Court agreed to decide one of the two questions raised. The constitutional issue at stake is whether police must have probable cause — a belief that evidence of a crime will be found — before they may use a dog sniff at the front door of a suspected “grow house,” or a site where marijuana is being grown. The case grows out of a Miami police officer’s use of a drug-detecting dog, “Franky,” in December 2006 to follow up on a “crime stoppers” tip that the house was being used to grow marijuana plants. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that police needed to have probable cause belief in wrongdoing before they could use the dog at the home, on the premise that the drug sniff was a “search” under the Fourth Amendment.

The state of Florida told the Supreme Court that the state ruling conflicts with Supreme Court precedent that a dog sniff is a search (sic) under the Fourth Amendment. “This Court,” the state said, “has explained that a dog sniff is not a search because the sole knowledge that the dog obtains by sniffing is the presence of contraband, which a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in possessing in the first place.” The petition cited the Court’s 2005 decision in Illinois v. Caballes, and argued that the Florida courts “are now alone in refusing to follow” that ruling.

In granting review of the probable cause issue, the Court opted not to hear a second question, testing whether police had engaged in a search simply by remaining outside the house while awaiting a search warrant. As is customary, the Court on Friday did not explain the refusal to hear that issue.

Read more on SCOTUSblog.

  2 Responses to “Supreme Court will hear dog drug-sniffing case”

  1. I’d say Yes to both of them, as soon as they stray off the sidewalk onto private land, they’d need a warrant, unless they use the sniffer dog on the edge of the sidewalk outside of the property of course.

  2. The front door of a residence is frequented by the public, door hangers, neighbors, salesman. A police dog (narcotic certified) only alerts on illegal narcotics odor which exits the residence into the free air. If I smell marijuana exiting a front door I can obtain a search warrant. I don’t see how a dog sniff is intrusive if he can only detect that which is illegal. It’s not like a thermal imaging which see your location and other things which are legal.

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