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LEGAL REVIEW (R)
|Vol. 41 No. 1||January / February 2012|
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Highlights of This Issue
United States Supreme Court Action
Federal and State Decisions
United States Supreme Court
Federal and State Decisions
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Special BulletinSpecial Bulletin: United States Supreme Court to Rule Whether Drug Detection Dogs Can Be Used Outside a Home to Detect Marijuana Growing Activity Inside the Home.
Florida v. Jardines, (http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/florida-v-jardines/).
http://(docket _11-564_ (http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfiles/11-564.htm) )
The Supreme Court has agreed to clarify when the 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 Florida v. Jardines, 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 arises from a Miami police officer’s use of a drug-detecting dog 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 contends that the state ruling conflicts with Supreme Court precedent that a dog sniff is not a search 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 state argues the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Illinois_v_Caballes, 543 U.S. 405 (2005), established that dog sniffs are not a Fourth Amendment search and 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.
Watch for a decision in this case by March of this year.
Issue in Jardines: 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.
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