We Strive For The Outcome You Need

Supreme Court to hear Fourth Amendment case

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The Constitution protects California residents against unreasonable searches and seizures. A case before the Supreme Court will determine whether a police dog’s paws touching a defendant’s car violated that man’s Fourth Amendment rights. In that case, the dog helped police find controlled substances during a traffic stop that led to a conviction on felony drug charges.

The case

Police stopped a vehicle after witnessing it swerve across multiple lanes of traffic. During the traffic stop, a search was conducted with the help of a police dog that alerted to the scent of what turned out to be methamphetamine. After obtaining this evidence, authorities were given a warrant to search the man’s motel room. However, authorities did not have a warrant at the time that the dog made contact with the defendant’s vehicle.

Idaho court rules

An Idaho court ruled that authorities overstepped by searching the car based on the dog’s actions. In its ruling, the court said that there was a difference between sniffing the air outside the car and getting close enough to sniff inside the car. Additionally, the court ruled that there was a difference between a dog accidentally brushing up against a car and trying to jump on it without consent.

It’s unclear how the Supreme Court may rule

There have been mixed opinions about how the Supreme Court may rule, and this may have an impact on the criminal defense strategy in your case. Historically, it has issued mixed rulings in previous cases involving police dogs and the Fourth Amendment. In 2013, it ruled against police in a case where a dog was sent to a property where marijuana was allegedly grown. However, it also ruled against a defendant in a case where a dog was used during a traffic stop.

If you are charged with a crime, it may be possible to have it dismissed or reduced by raising Fourth Amendment issues. In the event that evidence is seized illegally, it will likely be ruled inadmissible at trial.