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U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear important drug crimes case

When the framers of the Constitution wrote the Fourth Amendment protecting Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures, there was no doubt that those protections applied to a person’s home. Indeed, courts have long held that the home is where individuals can most expect protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. The automobile, however, is more of a gray area.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments in a drug crimes case in which a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated. As always, the Court’s decision in this matter will likely have substantial implications nationwide.

In March 2012, two men were pulled over on a Nebraska highway because an officer had noticed the driver momentarily swerve onto the shoulder of the road. The officer initially smelled air fresheners and noted that the passenger looked nervous. He asked some questions of the two men but became suspicious when they did not give “satisfactory” answers.

The officer had a drug-sniffing dog in his own vehicle, and asked the driver if he could bring the dog to sniff the vehicle. The driver refused, but the officer decided to do it anyway. Before doing the sniff search, however, he waited less than 10 minutes for a back-up officer to arrive.

The dog’s search revealed 50 grams of methamphetamine. When the case went to trial, the defendant argued that the drug evidence should be suppressed because the waiting period before the sniff-search was conducted was unreasonable.

An appellate court has already ruled that the “seven- or eight-minute delay . . . constituted a de minimis intrusion on [the defendant’s] personal liberty.” In other words, the wait was not long enough to be considered unreasonable.

The U.S. Supreme Court will now hear arguments in the case. Regardless of whether the defendant wins or loses, the ruling will likely provide one more clarification into the limits on law enforcement and Fourth Amendment rights as they apply to our personal vehicles.

Source: TheNewspaper.com, “Supreme Court Investigates Police K-9 Sniffs,” Oct. 7, 2014

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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