Search warrants are required before officers can allow a trained dog to sniff around your home. Without a search warrant it is a violation of your fourth Amendment Rights.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Florida v. Jardines, which affirmed a Fourth Amendment Right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure in a dog sniff case.
Miami officers, acting solely on a tip that Jardines was growing marijuana plants out of his home and without a search warrant, went to Jardines home with a trained drug detection dog. The dog sniffed around the front porch and after a few minutes he altered officers to the presence of marijuana. At that point, the officers obtained a search warrant for the home and found a marijuana-growing operation inside of the home. The probable case for the search warrant was based on an illegal search, thus the discovery of the marijuana plans was tainted and could not be used in the criminal prosecution. The government was left with only evidence of a tip; which is patently insufficient
The Courts have traditionally held that anyone from the general public, including the police, have a license to approach a house’s front door (to leave a flier or ask the occupant a question). This concept does not allow officers to bring a drug-sniffing dog onto your front porch, in order for this action a search warrant must be issued by a neutral and detached magistrate
What does this mean for your rights?
Police must have a search warrant to be able to stomp through your home (the front porch is part of your home). Police cannot go to your home and allow a dog to sniff around your front porch, cannot use a metal detector, or other device on the curtilage of your home WITHOUT A SEARCH warrant.
– Police cannot climb a ladder to “peak” into your home
– Police cannot use a detention dog to smell for marijuana
– Police cannot use a thermal imaging device to detect elevated heat to establish probable cause that heat lamps are being used
Police cannot use sense-enhancing technology to conduct a search into your home that would otherwise require a physical intrusion into your home. The home is still a constitutionally protected area where you have an expectation of privacy. These searches were held as unreasonable and in violation of the fourth amendment because they were conducted without a search warrant.
What if your rights are violated?
If you believe that the government or police have violated your rights by acting without a search warrant; consult with a criminal defense attorney in your area. The most common penalty is that the government is not allowed to use the tainted evidence in a criminal prosecution. This may mean that they cannot move forward with you case because they lack evidence, which could result in a dismissal of the charges.
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