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Supreme Court Says Drug Dogs Reliable

Tuesday / October 15, 2013

One of the common tactics used by police officers when investigating crimes is the use of drug dogs. Almost everyone is familiar with these dogs and has probably seen them on TV. Police dogs are highly trained animals that are used in the detection of drugs and sometimes explosive devices. Officers take advantage of these animals and their keen sense of smell and use it as a tool investigating criminal acts.


Drug dogs are often used when individual is driving and he suspected of having some sort of narcotic rather type of drug in the vehicle. The Supreme Court has previously ruled an individual being stopped for a traffic stop can be held Wally drug dog searches the outside of the vehicle. These dogs have certain types of alerts that they do when they smell an illegal substance which alerts the handler officer the criminal activity is suspected. An alert from a police dog is usually considered probable cause to allow the officers to then search the area that was alerted.


In a recent United States Supreme Court decision, Florida v. Harris, the Supreme Court upheld the reliability of drug sniffing dogs. The decision was unanimous decision by all nine justices in which the court set up a reasonable prudent person test to see if such a prudent person would think that the search will turn up evidence of illegal dogs after a dog has alerted its handler. Essentially the Supreme Court agreed and officer need only show that the dog was trained or got a certificate from a training agency to show that the dog is reliable and its alerts.  The court rejected a specific checklist that was imposed by the state court to determine whether the dog was reliable.


Arizona like every other state, uses drug detection dogs. This decision by the Supreme Court expands the ability of an officer to search when I drug detection dog has alerted it’s handler. This can have consequences to anybody who is charged with possession of drugs based on an alert from a trained drug detection dog. Because the Supreme Court expanded the reliability of these types of issues, it becomes even more important to get an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your constitutional rights. If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense please give me a call at 480-398-1498 or by visiting my website at

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