Police cannot bring drug-sniffing police dogs onto a suspect’s property to look for evidence without first getting a warrant for a search.
It’s a decision which may limit how investigators use dogs’ sensitive noses to search out drugs, explosives and other items hidden from human sight, sound and smell, Associated Press reporter Jesse Holland writes.
It’s the second opinion this year on the use of drug-sniffing dogs by police.
The court unanimously ruled earlier in another Florida case that police don’t have to extensively document the work of drug-sniffing dogs in the field to be able to use the results of their work in court.
Highlights from the AP coverage of Tuesday’s decision:
The high court split 5-4 on the decision to uphold the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling throwing out evidence seized in the search of Joelis Jardines’ Miami-area house. That search was based on an alert by Franky the drug dog from outside the closed front door.
Justice Antonin Scalia said a person has the Fourth Amendment right to be free from the government’s gaze inside their home and in the area surrounding it, which is called the curtilage.
“The police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trawling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of the home,” Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority.
Dissenting Justice Samuel Alito argued that it’s not trespassing when a mail carrier comes on a porch for a brief period. And that includes “police officers who wish to gather evidence against an occupant,” Alito said.
“According to the court, however, the police officer in this case, Detective Bartelt, committed a trespass because he was accompanied during his otherwise lawful visit to the front door of the respondent’s house by his dog, Franky. Where is the authority evidencing such a rule?”