The particularly sensitive noses of drug sniffing dogs frequently provide law enforcement with an effective tool for determining the presence of illegal drugs. In one recent example, a Denton woman was arrested and charged with drug possession after a short vehicle chase through Easton. The chase in question began when a Talbot County law enforcement officer attempted to stop the motorist’s vehicle because the driver was allegedly driving on a suspended license. After the motorist’s vehicle had been stopped, law enforcement used a drug sniffing dog that alerted them to the presence of drugs in the vehicle. Law enforcement was able to locate cocaine within the vehicle and the motorist was subsequently charged with several offenses including possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, fleeing and eluding, and driving on a suspended license. The driver was then released from jail on a $5,000 bond.
The Purpose of Drug Sniffing Dogs
Almost every city, state, and federal law enforcement agency in Denton and the surrounding area have access to drug sniffing dogs. A large number of vehicle searches include drivers who are stopped on small traffic infractions. Law enforcement officers cannot bring drug sniffing dogs onto a person’s property without first obtaining a warrant backed by probable cause or consent to conduct the search. Dogs will display a trained behavior if they come close to an illegal drug. The three main drug-groups dogs are designed to detect are opiates, marijuana, and amphetamines.
Passive and Aggressive Alerts
Dogs are trained to give either passive or aggressive alerts when the dog detects certain substances. A dog that is trained to give an aggressive alert can be seen biting, pawing, or scratching in order to uncover the substance.
Ways to Challenge Dog Sniffs
A Denton criminal defense attorney familiar with search and seizure law will know how to best challenge the certification and training of a canine in addition to the validity of a specific alert. There are several common ways that legal counsel can challenge the legality of dog sniffs. Some of these methods include the following:
- The Police Dog is Unreliable: A defense has been created that dogs are unreliable at detecting the presence of illegal drugs. In a number of cases, drug dogs have returned false positives, which means that their results are wrong.
- The Use of Police Dogs is Illegitimate: The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that law enforcement can have drug dogs sniff a parked vehicle or perform a sniff at random drug checkpoints. A positive dog sniff authorizes law enforcement to search an individual’s vehicle without consent or a warrant. A dog sniff is not considered lawful if the vehicle stop was unlawful in nature.
Obtain the Services of a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney
The criminal defense counsel at Wheeler Law Office has significant experience helping individuals respond to cases involving drug sniffing dogs. Our legal team is available at any time of day and knows how to best help clients create a strong legal strategy in response to such a case.