A law school classmate who is now a professor at our alma mater--Creighton--just posted (on Facebook, no less) that the Supreme Court has decided that a drug dog sniff is a search that requires a warrant.
The first important consideration that jumps out--what kind of lawyer gets his Supreme Court decision announcements via Facebook?!? Probably more important, though, is the ramification to law enforcement. In Florida v. Jardines (11-564), the police get an anonymous tip that a dude has got a bunch of pot in his house. The coppers investigate by noting that there is an air conditioner running for FIFTEEN WHOLE minutes (which, apparently, is indicative of trying to dissipate heat from grow lamps. I would have thought it indicates that Florida is hot, but I live in Colorado and it was 6 degrees yesterday morning, so "hot" might be relative. But I digress . . .). Anyway, the Man then takes a drug dog to the front door and allows him the sniff at the threshold. The dog "hits", essentially going crazy and then falling over on his back like my dog Junior in the picture above. Ok, I made that last part up--but you get the idea. Also, the part about the air conditioner didn't make it into the opinion, but it was in the briefs. Again, I digress. Sorry.
Armed with the dog sniff information (along with the air conditioner and the anonymous tip info), the Narcos go and get a warrant. Once they get in the house, they find 25 pounds of the evil weed and charge Mr. Jardines with various offenses. The evidence was then suppressed and un-suppressed in a number of different court proceedings until the Supreme Court got involved.
"Not so fast!" said the Supremes. "A dog sniff is a search!" they pronounced. (You can tell I'm excited by my use of exclamation points!!!!). Thus, law enforcement needs a warrant prior to having the dog sniff. The insightful analysis of this attorney?: drug dogs are now somewhat irrelevant. If the cops can get a warrant for a sniff, they can get a warrant to get into the house anyway. So why have the dogs in the first place? Sorry Fido! ****EDIT**** Fido gets a reprieve! My professor buddy just pointed out that Fido may still have utility in airports, sniffing cars, and that this holding applies only to homes which have a higher expectation of privacy. That's why he's a professor and I'm just a practitioner. Although, if the police have a drug dog sniffing your car, they probably can get into it some other way. Just sayin'!
Oh, yeah. Junior above actually is on drugs--for seizures. He slept like that long before he went on meds, though. Not sure what that means in terms of probable cause for warrants or searches, but I thought it was a funny picture. As always, if you are charged with a crime, it's a good idea to call a qualified attorney to discuss your case before making any important decisions about your rights.