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Drug Dogs No Longer Permitted to Search Curtilage Without Warrant

Police train drug dogs to detect the scent of drugs within a home, car, or on a person when a human's senses wouldn't be able to pick up the odor. This can be extremely beneficial for law enforcement who believe that a suspect may have hidden illegal narcotics somewhere that is not easy to scout out. Yet a case which originated in 2006 recently made it up to the Supreme Court of the United States and radically changed the way that drug dogs can be used in an investigation.

Originally, questions about the constitutionality of drug dog searches started with a case in Miami. A man was growing marijuana plants in his house, an illegal offense in the state of Florida. Police know that the man was a suspect after they had gotten tips about the crime from neighbors and they had set up surveillance cameras to watch him.

One day, the police brought drug dogs near the home, and one of the canines caught the scent of marijuana. The pup approached the house, stood on the porch, and alerted police that there was marijuana inside.

After this, the police obtained a search warrant and burst into the house, catching the marijuana grower and seizing over 100 plants that amounted to more than $700,000. In his trial, the defendant's lawyer argued that he was the victim of an unlawful search and that this Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the drug dog that burst onto the property and tipped the police off.

After careful scrutiny and multiple appeals, the Supreme Court has declared that drug dogs are no longer allowed to search the curtilage of a private home for drugs and this evidence is not admissible. Curtilage involves the porch, yard, and directly surrounding area of a house.

Now, police must have a search warrant before dogs are permitted to enter the premises. If you were arrested because of a drug dog search at your home without a warrant, then you can use this line of defense in order to avoid conviction. Talk to a Texas drug defense attorney at the Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC for more information about how this ruling affects your case.