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Unconstitutional Search-Motin to Suppress

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//July 8, 2024//

Unconstitutional Search-Motin to Suppress

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//July 8, 2024//

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Juventino Plancarte

Case No.: 23-2224

Officials: Flaum, Brennan, and Kolar, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Unconstitutional Search-Motin to Suppress

At a traffic stop in Wisconsin, police officers utilized a K-9 unit to conduct a sniff of a car suspected of being involved in drug trafficking. The dog indicated the presence of drugs, prompting a search of the vehicle that led to the discovery of nearly eleven pounds of methamphetamine. Juventino Plancarte, present in the car during the stop, contested the district court’s refusal to suppress the evidence.

Plancarte faced charges related to methamphetamine distribution following indictments by lower courts. He sought to suppress the evidence obtained from the dog’s sniff, arguing that the K-9 could detect both illegal marijuana products and legal substances derived from cannabis plants. Therefore, he argued that the sniff constituted an unconstitutional search under the Fourth Amendment, lacking a warrant and probable cause. However, the district court adopted the recommendations of a magistrate judge, denying Plancarte’s motion to suppress, which led to his subsequent guilty plea on the drug charges.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the district court’s decision. The appellate court determined that the K-9 sniff did not constitute a Fourth Amendment search as it did not intrude upon any reasonable expectation of privacy. It emphasized that the sniff occurred in a public location outside the home, during a lawful traffic stop, where individuals generally have diminished privacy expectations. The court further clarified that the K-9’s role was solely to detect narcotics, not to reveal any other information. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court’s proper denial of Plancarte’s motion to suppress.

Affirmed.

Decided 06/28/24

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