Attorney James K. Minick

Attorney James K. Minick

Under the 4th Amendment, the Constitution guarantees that an individual is to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in their homes and on their persons. This is primarily due to the fact that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in these locations. However, does the 4th Amendment protect individuals from a search of their car from a trained drug dog?

4th Amendment Protection of Vehicles

Many people believe that since the 4th Amendment protects their home and persons, this protection also extends to their vehicles. Unfortunately, this is not true. In a variety of cases, the Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that the 4th Amendment does not offer the same level of protection to a car due to the high mobility of a motor vehicle and the ease in which it can be used for criminal behavior. As such, a person cannot expect to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their conduct or property that is contained in their car.

Illinois v. Caballes

In Illinois v. Caballes, the Supreme Court heard a case involving drug sniffing dogs. In the case, after being pulled over for a traffic stop, Roy Caballes was subject to a sniff of his car by a drug dog. After a positive alert by the dog, the police claimed that they had probable cause for a vehicle search. After searching the vehicle and discovering drugs, Caballes was arrested for drug trafficking. After deliberating, the Supreme Court ruled that the vehicle search was valid based off of the probable cause given by the positive alert by the dog. As such, there was no violation of the 4th Amendment. In its reasoning, the Supreme Court stated that a drug dog’s only purpose is to detect illegal items and as such, a person cannot expect to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in any illegal items.

James Minick Talks About What to Do During a Traffic Stop

What Are Your Rights?

Although Illinois v. Caballes gave the police the authority to use probable cause provided by a drug dog to search your vehicle, this does not mean that police officers are given free reign. In order for the drug dog sniff to be considered legal, the police are not allowed to detain you for any longer then a normal traffic stop would take. This means that unless the officer that pulled you over has a drug dog or is able to get one on the scene before the traffic stop process is completed, the officer cannot make you wait for a drug dog to arrive. However, if the police officer is able to identify reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior that would allow a drug dog sniff, the police officer may be able to hold you until a drug dog can arrive on the scene.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know have been charged with a criminal charge based off the positive alert of a drug dog, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case and possibly get the evidence excluded. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.

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