Supreme Court puts dog on short leash.

By Edward Lewis

While the world awaits the United States Supreme Courts decisions in two controversial cases involving Marriage Equality or Gay Marriage,
(Depending on which side of the debate you are on) The highest Court in the land decided a very important case regarding Search and Seizure law.

In FLORIDA v. JARDINES., No. 11–564. Argued October 31, 2012—Decided March 26, 2013 (Slip Opinion) The Supreme Court had before it a case involving the use of drug sniffing dogs by law enforcement. The Miami-Dade Police Department brought a dog trained to sniff drugs onto the defendant’s front porch and allowed the dog (on a 6 foot leash)
To sniff around the front porch. The dog eventually “alerted,” to the space under the front door.

The Police Department then secured the residence and asked for and received a search warrant for the home. The search was conducted and large quantities of marijuana were found and the defendant was charged with trafficking in Cannabis (marijuana.)

Justice Scalia writing for the majority found the search to be an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
(U.S. Const., amend. IV. In part)

Justice Scalia found the case to be a “straight forward one.” (FLORIDA v. JARDINES, at page 3, paragraph II) I believe in part because the Police Officers went inside the defendant’s home to conduct the search, and only once inside the home did they find evidence of a crime.

The Supreme Court in recent years has taken up cases involving the use of new technologies and new law enforcement methods. Last term the Supreme Court heard a case involving the use of GPS tracking
(Jones, 565 U. S. slip op., at page 5)

They also ruled on the use of a device that uses infrared technology to scan the contents of the inside of someone’s home from the outside of the home on the street. Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27 (2001)

In both these cases the Court found a violation of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. These cases all involved either the entry into a home, or it’s area immediately surrounding the home, what us lawyers like to call:
“The curtilage . “

As our society progresses ever forward and new technologies are brought into the public sphere in ever greater numbers, it becomes a necessity to see how these new technological advances will be used in everyday law enforcement and how the use of these technologies will be handled by the Courts.

It is therefore extremely important for those of us attorneys whom practice criminal law to stay abreast of the new technologies as they are being utilized by law enforcement, and moreover, how the Courts, are interrupting their use especially the highest Court in the land, the United States Supreme Court.

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