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Florida v. Harris


An officer pulled the defendant’s truck over due to an expired license plate. During this encounter, the officer observed that the defendant was “visibly nervous” in that he could not sit still, was shaking and breathing rapidly. He asked the defendant for permission to search the vehicle, which the defendant declined. The officer retrieved his drug-sniffing dog from his patrol vehicle and walked him around the defendant’s truck. The dog alerted to the presence of controlled substances in the truck. The officer, believing he had probable cause, began a mobile conveyance search of the truck, resulting in his discovery of precursor materials for the manufacturing of controlled substances.


Whether a trained drug-sniffing dog’s alert can establish probable cause?


Yes. The reliability of a well-trained drug dog is such that a court is entitled to base a finding of probable cause on its alert


The defendant asked the Supreme Court to install a greater hurdle for the government
before using evidence created by drug-sniffing dogs. The Court has previously
“rejected rigid rules, bright-line tests, and mechanistic inquiries in favor of a more
flexible, all-things-considered approach”…in probable cause determinations. In doing
so, the Court held that reviewing courts are entitled to find probable cause exists on
the signal of a certified, trained drug-sniffing dog.


568 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 1050 (2013)

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