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Drug Dogs and the Law


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#1 Sidestreet

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 03:22 PM

I’ll start this off with a scenario that I know all too personally:

 


 

Just after midnight on March 27, 2012, police officer Morgan Struble observed a Mercury Mountaineer veer slowly onto the shoulder of Nebraska State Highway 275 for one or two seconds and then jerk back onto the road. Nebraska law prohibits driving on highway shoulders, and on that basis, Struble pulled the Mountaineer over at 12:06 a.m. Struble is a K–9 officer with the Valley Police Department in Nebraska, and his dog Floyd was in his patrol car that night. Two men were in the Mountaineer: the driver, Dennys Rodriguez, and a front-seat passenger, Scott Pollman.

 

 

Struble returned to Rodriguez's vehicle a third time to issue the written warning. By 12:27 or 12:28 a.m., Struble had finished explaining the warning to Rodriguez, and had given back to Rodriguez and Pollman the documents obtained from them. As Struble later testified, at that point, Rodriguez and Pollman “had all their documents back and a copy of the written warning. I got all the reason[s] for the stop out of the way[,] ... took care of all the business.”

 

Nevertheless, Struble did not consider Rodriguez “free to leave.” Although justification for the traffic stop was “out of the way,” Struble asked for permission to walk his dog around Rodriguez's vehicle. Rodriguez said no. Struble then instructed Rodriguez to turn off the ignition, exit the vehicle, and stand in front of the patrol car to wait for the second officer. Rodriguez complied. At 12:33 a.m., a deputy sheriff arrived. Struble retrieved his dog and led him twice around the Mountaineer. The dog alerted to the presence of drugs halfway through Struble's second pass. All told, seven or eight minutes had elapsed from the time Struble issued the written warning until the dog indicated the presence of drugs. A search of the vehicle revealed a large bag of methamphetamine.

 

Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1609, 1612–13, 191 L. Ed. 2d 492 (2015)

 

 

Of course, my experience didn’t end with the discovery of a fat sack of crank.  But you get the general idea.  It’s any festival-goer's nightmare.  It’s unpleasant to think about, but knowing the law surrounding the use of drug dogs might help you avoid this kind of situation or at least help you know what to tell your lawyer about.

 

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that  it was lawful for the police to use a drug dog during a traffic stop even if there is no reasonable suspicion to do so.  The Court justified that outcome by saying that there is no legitimate privacy interest in concealing the possession of contraband.  Because the drug dog only reveals the presence of such contraband and no other private information, the sniff does not constitute an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.  See Illinois v. Caballes (2005).

 

There is, however, a limitation on that rule: the police can’t detain you for an unreasonably long time after the business of the traffic stop has concluded to conduct the search unless there is reasonable suspicion.  That means after the ticket or warning has been issued, the police can’t call in a dog and make you wait too long for it to arrive.  How long is an unreasonably long time?  In Rodriguez v. United States, it was only seven or eight minutes.  So, if you are stopped for a traffic or equipment violation and there’s something in your car, it might be a good idea just to admit to the violation when the officer asks “do you know why I stopped you” and move things along.

 

You should note that "reasonable suspicion" is a pretty low bar.  Reasonable suspicion can be found if you are especially nervous or if you have implausible travel plans.

 

As a quick aside, notice that in the story above, Dennys was asked to consent to the use of the dog and he said no.  If asked permission for pretty much anything, you should always say no.  On the other hand, you should almost always comply with a command, because if it was given lawfully you can get hit with an obstruction charge.  It’s possible to imagine scenarios when an obstruction charge would be the least of your worries, but as a general rule you should do what you’re told in an encounter to avoid more trouble.

 

And finally, as always, my exploration of the law should not be confused with an endorsement.  It also doesn’t mean that it will always be followed by police, but that's why it's good to know something about it: so you can challenge their actions in court if you need to.  And if you are charged with an offense that faces you with the possibility of incarceration, you are entitled to an attorney if you can’t afford one.  Always assert your Fifth Amendment right until you can talk to your attorney!


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#2 Ramble

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 08:57 PM

Knowledge is power, thanks Sidestreet!
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#3 Heirloom Spores

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 10:29 PM

I don't agree with the courts. I try to obey the traffic laws especially if I have a little smoke on me.Thats no guarantee that a person won't get busted though. Here they use an unmarked van with a drug dog inside and a scoop that brings in air for the dog to sniff. They run up and down the interstate pulling behind cars and trucks and if the dog barks they get pulled over. This particular county where they run makes lots of busts and gather large sums of cash too. A few years ago they pulled over a car with a bunch of money
and the deputies counted it the Sheriff took it to the station and when he arrived 100,000.00 was missing. The Sheriff was convicted and got probation.


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#4 fungi2bwith

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 04:16 AM

Cops here don't give two shits about herb(I've got a story or two), so I'm in the clear, however, they do like meth and opiates.....which is fine with me, as I have no issues with those....


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#5 Sidestreet

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 04:57 AM

I don't agree with the courts. I try to obey the traffic laws especially if I have a little smoke on me.Thats no guarantee that a person won't get busted though. Here they use an unmarked van with a drug dog inside and a scoop that brings in air for the dog to sniff. They run up and down the interstate pulling behind cars and trucks and if the dog barks they get pulled over.

 

I've never heard of this technique.  If you can find any more information on it please do post it here.

 

 

 

 

Permeation

 

Permeation is the practice of "prepping" a car for a dog sniff.

 

 

Prior to Patrolman Howell arriving on the scene, Detective Daniels “permeated” the Buick. (Id. at 65). The process involves a physical entry into the vehicle by law enforcement, rolling up its windows, turning off the ignition but leaving the key in the “on” position, and then turning on the vehicle's interior fan to blow any aromas in the vehicle out to the exterior. This appears to be a standard practice for the Charleston Police Department when the K–9 unit is called.

U.S. v. Taylor, 963 F.Supp.2d 580 (2013)

 

Taylor is a case out of the federal court for the Southern District of West Virginia.  In this case, the police entered the defendant's car to permeate it without probable cause or without permission.  For that reason, the search was eventually suppressed.

 

I don't know how widespread permeation is (though it's apparently common in Charleston) but it's just something to be aware of.


Edited by Sidestreet, 13 November 2016 - 04:58 AM.

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#6 wildedibles

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 08:48 AM

I had a german shepard before that loved to smell weed out it was a happy game for her :) So I decided to check things out that she could and couldnt smell threw ........beware its the residue all over the packaging that they smell most of the time.
I used glade press and seal cause it promces that you cannot smell fish threw it lol whats stinkier than weed lol fish so I tried it
If I packed it up and touched the outside of the package after touching the weed the residue was then on the outside and she smelled it as if it were just loose
But when I placed the weed on the inside and someone else that didnt touch weed wrapped it up she couldnt smell threw it.
She was a good tester :)
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#7 catattack

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 09:36 AM

There's no drug dogs on trains.


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#8 Sidestreet

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 09:41 AM

If I packed it up and touched the outside of the package after touching the weed the residue was then on the outside and she smelled it as if it were just loose
But when I placed the weed on the inside and someone else that didnt touch weed wrapped it up she couldnt smell threw it.

 

This is a good tip, but at the same time I think the smell still gets out of pretty much anything over time.  So it's good to wrap it up safely right before leaving.


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#9 catattack

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 09:46 AM

Here's Jaime and Adam testing out methods of deterring dogs:

 

http://www.discovery...air-of-the-dog/

 

Spoiler alert, nothing works.

 

Driving with drugs is literally the easiest way to get caught IMHO.


Edited by catattack, 13 November 2016 - 09:52 AM.

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#10 Sidestreet

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 10:08 AM

Driving with drugs is literally the easiest way to get caught IMHO.

 

Agree.

 

 

I'm gonna go ahead and say that I assume there's a widespread practice of teaching the dogs to false alert as well.  I could be wrong, but I think I'm erring on the side of caution.


Edited by Sidestreet, 13 November 2016 - 10:10 AM.

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#11 wildedibles

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:10 PM

I agree too Ive been watching border patrol shows and man oh man ........

#12 Juthro

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:25 PM

There's no drug dogs on trains.



I respectful disagree with this one, Cat.

There are Amtrak detectives, and they do have access to dogs.

#13 catattack

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:33 PM

 

There's no drug dogs on trains.



I respectful disagree with this one, Cat.

There are Amtrak detectives, and they do have access to dogs.

 

 

Amtrak dogs are there for explosives methinks, I have to walk right by them every time at a major train station. So are the dogs at airports. I had  mj in my pocket the last time I was boarding a plane and the dog sniffed me and walked with no signal. Maybe I used my cat-telepathy on it though.

 

It's literally gotten to the point that I don't even sweat walking by a K9 unit.


Edited by catattack, 13 November 2016 - 02:34 PM.


#14 Juthro

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:47 PM

They most definitely do look for 'drug smugglers' on trains, to think otherwise is just fooling yourself.

And while they really aren't fishing for personal use amounts (small fish), don't think that means they will just toss you back with just a scolding if they catch you.

Roll the dice at your own risk, but don't say I didn't warn you.

#15 catattack

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 03:29 PM

They most definitely do look for 'drug smugglers' on trains, to think otherwise is just fooling yourself.

And while they really aren't fishing for personal use amounts (small fish), don't think that means they will just toss you back with just a scolding if they catch you.

Roll the dice at your own risk, but don't say I didn't warn you.

 

I figure it's more of a numbers game. If they put the drug dogs in the normal passenger areas they'd have to stop every 10th person (or every 3rd, depending on the station). :biggrin:

 

catEdit, I will not say you didn't warn me though @juthro


Edited by catattack, 13 November 2016 - 05:03 PM.





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