U.S. Supreme Court creates 'magic words' for cops to use in drug-search cases

U.S. Supreme Court creates 'magic words' for cops to use in drug-search cases

The answer to Jacob Sullivan’s question – where does a cop with an 80-pound dog search – is anywhere the cop wants. At least that’s what it looks like in theory, after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled last month that an alert by a drug-sniffing dog gives the cop probable cause to conduct a search.

In other words, all the cop has to do is say the dog alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle – the magic words being “my dog alerted” – and the car can be searched for drugs, and the defendant charged with a Drug Offense should any drugs be found.

Sullivan quotes Justice Elena Kagan:

“[T]he dog may not have made a mistake at all,” Kagan said in regard to the problem that drug-sniffing dogs don’t always get things right. In other words, these dogs do false-positive sniffs all the time, according to studies. But Kagan pushes that aside. “[T]he dog may have detected substances that were too well hidden or present in quantities too small for the officer to locate.”

So what we have is a shift in the burden of proof, according to Sullivan. In theory, prosecutors won’t have to prove the reliability of a dog’s alert. Instead, the defense will have to prove that the dog’s sniffer was unreliable; otherwise, the dog’s alert will simply be considered to have been enough for a cop to conduct a lawful search.

Source: Where Does a Cop With an 80-Pound Dog Search?

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