Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Legal News / Use of drug-sniffing dog constituted ‘search’, says U.S. Supreme Court

Use of drug-sniffing dog constituted ‘search’, says U.S. Supreme Court

By Pat Murphy
Dolan Media Newswires

Police engaged in a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when they used a drug-sniffing dog on a homeowner’s porch to investigate the contents of the home, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-4.

The ruling affirmed a decision by the Florida Supreme Court.

Police received a tip that the defendant was growing marijuana at his home. Acting on the tip, police brought a drug-detection dog to the front of the residence. Police allowed the dog to go onto the front porch where it alerted to the presence of drugs at the front door. This information was used to obtain a search warrant. Police executed the warrant and discovered a marijuana-growing operation.

The defendant moved to suppress,{} arguing that the canine sniff was a search requiring probable cause.

The court agreed that a search occurred, explaining that the police officers “were gathering information in an area belong¬ing to [the defendant] and immediately surrounding his house – in the curtilage of the house, which we have held enjoys protection as part of the home itself. And they gathered that information by physically entering and occupying the area to engage in conduct not explicitly or implicitly per¬mitted by the homeowner. …

“One virtue of the Fourth Amendment’s property-rights baseline is that it keeps easy cases easy. That the officers learned what they learned only by physi¬cally intruding on [the defendant’s] property to gather evidence is enough to establish that a search occurred.”

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion. Justice Elena Kagan wrote a concurring opinion, in which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonja Sotomayor joined. Justice Samuel Alito Jr. wrote a dissent, in which Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Steven G. Breyer joined.

U.S. Supreme Court. Florida v. Jardines, No. 11-564.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *