U. S. Supreme Court to Rule on Florida K9 Drug Sniff

The Unites States Supreme Court will make a ruling this year in the case of a K9 sniff conducted outside a private residence in 2008.  The alert by Miami-Dade narcotics detector K9 Franky resulted in a search warrant for the residence and ultimately a drug seizure and arrest.

At odds in Joelis Jardines vs. State of Florida (SC08-2101) is whether the sniff of the exterior of the home violated the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights to search and seizure.  Jardines was arrested after the search warrant service yielded 179 marijuana plants in his home.

In essence, the trial court suppressed the original drug find, the Florida Third District Court upheld the find, and the Florida Supreme Court again suppressed the find.  Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, along with over a dozen other states, is attempting to have the Florida’s negative ruling reversed.

Florida’s Third District Court’s ruling to uphold the validity of the K9 sniff was in direct conflict with a Fourth District Court decision in State vs. Rabb, which in 2006 found that the K9 sniff of a residence is unconstitutional.  This is the basis for the U.S. Supreme Court review.

The interesting argument posed by the State in this case was that the sniff of the K9 dog detects only illegal substances, not the legal activities of an ordinary citizen.  It also does not “illuminate” the residence to public examination, as would an illegal search of the residence.

Here is a link to the Florida Supreme Court finding: www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2011/sc08-2101.pdf

This case will have national implications.  We will obviously follow this one.

(Photo of K9 Franky courtesy Miami-Dade Police Department)

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