Drug Dogs Under Attack in Florida

Search and Seizure
Drug Defense Attorney notes another ruling on Drug Dogs and Sniffs and Vehicles. The Supreme Court bounced charges against a vehicle occupant facing drug charges. Drug Dogs and their handlers are under Attack in Florida again. This case involved a vehicle search where the dog sniffed the door handle of the car, alerted for a drug, and then it became clear that the dog was not even trained for the drug that the cops found in the vehicle.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in a 44 page ruling that the State must establish probable cause to search interior of vehicle when using a drug-detection dog. The State must demonstrate that the cops had reasonable basis for believing the dog to be reliable. We recently wrote about drug dogs in houses. There is a difference when it comes to vehicle searches.

The Court then addressed how the State must meet that burden. They must present training and certification records, the meaning of the particular training and a certificate for that dog, field records must be introduced to show false positives, and in a recent development, there must be evidence of the experience and training of the officer handling the dog. Proof of training and certification is not enough.

Drug Defense Attorney Lawyer Casey Ebsary has posted the complete Dog Sniff opinion here on Drug2Go.com

Today the Florida Supreme Court held: "We hold the fact that a drug-detection dog has been trained and certified to detect narcotics, standing alone, is not sufficient to demonstrate the reliability of the dog. To demonstrate that an officer has a reasonable basis for believing that an alert by a drug-detection dog is sufficiently reliable to provide probable cause to search, the State must present evidence of the dog‘s training and certification records, an explanation of the meaning of the particular training and certification, field performance records (including any unverified alerts), and evidence concerning the experience and training of the officer handling the dog, as well as any other objective evidence known to the officer about the dog‘s reliability. The trial court must then assess the reliability of the dog‘s alert as a basis for probable cause to search the vehicle based on a totality of the circumstances."

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Source: 36 Fla. L. Weekly S163a