Fighting drug possession and DUI charges often means fighting the legality of the search that found drugs; evidence that was obtained illegally can't be used against you in court. Since many police stations are increasingly using k9 units to search for drugs, it's important to know how to fight a search that involved drug dogs.
The U.S. Supreme Court dealt with an Illinois dog search in 2005 in the case Illinois v. Cabellas. The Supreme Court set a fairly low standard for drug searches using dogs; the police can lead a dog around your car at any legal traffic stop. In essence, they don't need reasonable suspicion or your consent to have a dog check your car. However, they did establish a very important limit: the police cannot cause an unreasonable delay to the traffic stop to allow a dog to sniff your car. They are limited in time and scope only to a routine traffic stop. In short, the police can walk a dog around your car in a legal traffic stop, but they cannot make you wait for a dog to show up without a good reason.
Another possible area to challenge a search is on the reliability of the dog. Dog searches are part of establishing reasonable suspicion, and an unreliable dog can't provide reasonable grounds for a search. While studies are increasingly showing that k9 units are more often wrong then right and easily manipulated by their handlers, the courts generally view k9 units as reliable as long as they've completed their training. Challenging a drug dog's reliability will likely require a comprehensive look at the dog's history of conducting searches.
Overall, the police have a lot of leeway when conducting searches with dogs. It is possible to fight these searches and win. If you've been charged with drug possession or with a DUI, call the criminal law team at John W. Callahan ltd. to get in touch with lawyers experienced in fighting these kinds of charges.
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