Supreme Court Says a “Dog Sniff” is A Search Under 4th Amendment

In the recent case of Florida v. Jardines 132 S.Ct. 1409 (2013) the Court found a search can result from a dog sniff during a criminal investigation. In an unusual mix, Justices Scalia and Thomas joined with three of the court’s liberals — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — to hold that a dog sniff on the Defendant’s front yard constituted a “search” under the Fourth Amendment. Facts showed that two police officers accompanied dog “Franky” to Joelis Jardines’s front door in Miami. They had received an anonymous tip that Jardines had turned his abode into a full-time “grow house” for marijuana. Police used Franky’s “alert” at the front door as probable cause for getting a search warrant. Dogs seem to bring out the wit in Supreme Court justices. Scalia quoted an ancient legal doctrine that “holds the property of every man so sacred, that no man can set his foot upon his neighbor’s close without his leave.” In Miami, Scalia said that the case was “on all fours [with] the constitutional protected extension of Jardines’ home.” There is an implicit license for a visitor to come to someone’s front door, Scalia said, and “it is generally managed without incident by the nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-ortreaters.” But while it might be routine to find a visitor knocking at the door, Scalia wrote, “to spot that same visitor exploring the front path with a metal detector, or marching his bloodhound into the garden before saying hello and asking permission, would inspire most of us to — well, call the police.” Justice Kagan concurred on privacy and home property grounds. What is unusual here is that the decision is unrelated to the exclusionary rule under Mapp v. Ohio, but instead it is a holding that predicate facts in the affidavit supporting issuance of a search warrant are deemed incompetent to support the warrant if they are gathered in violation of the suspect’s constitutional rights.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty five years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV regarding license suspension hearings stemming from drunk driving arrests.
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