Flickr/West Midlands PoliceThe Supreme Court has ruled that police use of a drug-sniffing dog on a homeowner’s porch is a violation of the Fourth Amendment‘s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The case, Florida v. Jardines, involved police taking a drug-sniffing dog to Jardines’ front porch, where the dog gave a positive alert for narcotics. The officers subsequently obtained a warrant for a search, which revealed marijuana plants, and Jardines was charged with trafficking in cannabis. The Supreme Court of Florida approved the trial court’s decision to suppress the evidence.
The government argued that the dog is “alerted” only by illegal contraband so it didn’t count as a search. But Justice Scalia’s majority opinion noted that a homeowner’s rights extend to their porch, so the search was an intrusion unsupported by probable cause.
The vote was 5 to 4. Justice Alito wrote the dissenting opinion, which was joined Justices Roberts, Kennedy, and Breyer.
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