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Drug Search Dogs: Your Rights

Many times the police use drug-sniffing dogs to help detect illegal smugglers or users in the state of Texas. When you are discovered by a drug dog, you have Constitutional rights that you can invoke. According to Avvo, you don’t need to consent to the search when dogs approach. Drug dogs must be properly trained and their handlers must be careful to monitor the procedure during the search and maintain records of the search. According to civil forfeiture, the police can confiscate your possessions if they discover that any of these things carry or contain an illegal narcotic. Still, the police need to be careful when they do seize property or possessions. They need to be fair in the search and not take items out of suspicion.

It is important to remember that the dogs aren’t always right. Even if the dogs were trained to be drug sniffers, they may get confused. They may believe that a smell is a drug when it is really only a lotion or a food. If the dogs alert the police, it may start an unwarranted search where your rights are not upheld as they should be. According to one lawyer, drug sniffing dogs are only right about the drugs 44 percent of the time. Most dogs are normally wrong despite their training and sniffing abilities. The Chicago Tribune discovered that when the drug dogs are set to search a Hispanic suspect’s vehicle, they are only right about 27 percent of the time.

Some believe this is because the police racially profile Hispanics. Many times the dogs may smell drugs when they have been out of a vehicle for weeks, leaving behind a detectible scent. Sometimes a dog may alert officers only to find that the car was recently sold to a new owner, and the drugs would have been from a previous driver. If you have been arrested in conjunction with a drug crime where drug dogs were used, tell your attorney. You may be able to use this detail to your advantage because the drug dogs are not a reliable source of proof.