Last week the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Florida v. Jardines, a case involving police use of a drug-sniffing dog on the front porch of a home to detect marijuana growing inside. The Court held that “the government’s use of trained police dogs to investigate the home and its immediate surroundings is a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”After receiving an anonymous tip that marijuana was being grown in a house, police brought a drug-sniffing dog to the front porch. When ‘Franky,” the drug-sniffing dog, alerted to the presence of pot, the police applied for a search a warrant and subsequently found marijuana in the house. Prior to trial, the defendant’s public defender filed a motion to suppress arguing that the use of the drug-sniffing dog violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and the judge agreed. Prosecutors appealed, and the ruling was reversed.
The defendant asked the Florida Supreme Court for review and the trial court ruling granting the motion to suppress was reinstated. The State of Florida sought review in the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard by the Supreme Court last October. Longtime Assistant Public Defender Howard Blumberg argued against the legality of the dog sniff.
The Supreme Court held that since the officers discovered marijuana was being grown in the home only after “physically intruding on Jardines’ property to gather evidence,” the dog sniff search was unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant.