Police Dog Searches

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What Are Police Dog Searches?

Police use dogs to conduct searches in many places. High capacity areas and places with high volumes of traffic such as road check points and airports are useful places to employ drug sniffing dogs. These dogs can help police find drugs in people’s vehicles and suitcases with minimal invasion of privacy for people who are not carrying drugs. Dogs can also be trained to sniff for bombs and explosives. This is particularly important in travel hubs such as airports, train stations, and bus terminals.

What Are Legal Procedures for a Police Dog Search?

Police do not need a warrant to conduct a police dog search. According to the Supreme Court, people are not entitled to a reasonable privacy expectation in semi-public spaces such as airports, automobiles, and luggage cases. Therefore, a police dog search is a legal search, not an illegal one. If a police dog turns up illegal substances such as explosives or narcotics, they are legally admissible in court and to be used as evidence to charge the defendant.

When Are Police Dog Searches Illegal?

Police are not legally permitted to prolong a search in order to use a drug sniffing dog or in order to try to influence the outcome of the search. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal for police to lengthen a traffic stop, or detain or delay travelers for the purposes of prolonging a police dog search.

In addition, police are not legally permitted to bring drug sniffing dogs to a private residence without a warrant. In a 2013 case, the Supreme Court ruled that bringing drug sniffing dogs onto private property without the owner’s permission violated the fourth amendment and constituted an illegal search. However, people cannot have the same expectation to privacy in semi-public areas such as vehicles and travel hubs. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been injured by a police dog, or if have been charged with drug possession or explosives possession, you need to retain a criminal attorney right away. Drug and weapons charges carry serious penalties and potential prison terms, so it is important to find someone that can build your best case and represent you in court.

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Last Modified: 06-15-2016 04:10 PM PDT

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