When a person is accused of a crime, it can often be a time of great confusion.
Sometimes the individual has never had any interaction with law enforcement
before the arrest, and may feel that they can talk their way out of trouble.
This almost never happens, as police have conducted very extensive investigations
before making an arrest.
Certain crimes, especially drug crimes, often receive more attention from
investigators. Officers may receive tips from confidential informants
or may discover evidence of wrongdoing from others who are arrested. Police
can use this information to try to learn how the drugs may have found
their way into their communities.
Police conducting these investigations need to follow proper procedures
to ensure that an individual’s constitutional rights are being protected.
Frequently, the behavior of law enforcement can lead to questions about
the potential violation of these rights. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently
hearing two cases concerning the use of drug-detecting dogs, and whether
or not the subsequent arrests were proper.
In the first case, an individual was pulled over by police. When the officer
approached, he noticed the man behaving erratically. When asked for consent
to search the vehicle, the man declined. The officer then brought a drug-detecting
dog to sniff the “free air” outside of the vehicle. The dog
indicated the presence of a substance on the driver’s door handle.
A further search revealed several materials used in the making of meth
under the driver’s seat.
In the second case, police received a tip from a crime-stoppers line that
a person was growing marijuana inside of a residence. The investigation
began much later, when police went to the home. An officer watched the
location for 15 minutes. Law enforcement than brought a drug-detecting
dog on the porch of the home, and the dog indicated the presence of drugs.
A further search turned up evidence of marijuana growing.
The question that the Court is considering is whether these police activities
violated the defendant’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. For years, law enforcement agencies have relied
on drug dogs to establish probable cause to search. (For a more detailed
explanation of the problems with drug dog searches please read our ebook:
Nebraska Interstate Drug Stop Defense Book) If the Court permits these actions, it could greatly enhance the powers
that police have when they are conducting investigations.
If you have been accused of a drug crime, speak to an experienced criminal
defense attorney. You need to protect your rights during this process,
as there are serious consequences for a conviction which can last several
years after a case has ended.