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Criminal Defense Arizona: Canines & The Fourth Amendment

Criminal defense in Arizona is continuously worried about illegal search and seizures and the Fourth Amendment. The law of canine sniffing stands primarily on four U.S. Supreme Court cases: Terry v. Ohio, United States v. Place, City of Indianapolis v. Edmond and Illinois v. Caballes. These cases have put searches, suspicion, seizures and sniffs in the context of the Fourth Amendment and are extremely important to criminal defense in Arizona.

Terry v. Ohio

Two men hover around a street corner, seemingly waiting for no one. They pace up and down the block and stare in a store window. A law enforcement officer suspects that the two men are contemplating a robbery. The officer decides to investigate but lack probable cause. He identifies himself as a police officer and makes reasonable inquiries. The officer then conducts a carefully limited search of the men’s clothing in an attempt to discover weapons.

This case has had a huge effect on criminal defense in Arizona because the Supreme Court validated this conduct. The Court held that the tempered act of an officer who in the course of investigation had to make a quick decision about protecting him and others from danger.

United States v. Place

In the case of United States v. Place, the Supreme Court held that a 90-minute holding of luggage was unreasonable, as was the police officer’s failure to tell the defendant where their luggage was going, how long it would be held and how it would be returned. Impermissibly, the seizing had intruded on both the defendant’s interest with proceeding in his itinerary and his interest in his luggage. This case had a great effect of criminal defense in Arizona. At the same time, the Supreme Court was careful to emphasize that, although the Constitution did not allow such seizure of the luggage, exposure to a highly trained canine would not constitute a search.

The Court pointed out that the canine sniff does not require the opening of luggage, which also had a drastic affect on criminal defense in Arizona. The court added that the manner in which the information is obtained through a canine sniff is less intrusive than a typical search. No other investigative procedure is able to gather information so carefully and reveals a degree of information that is considered so modest. Thus, in spite of the fact that a canine sniff tells the officers something about the content of the luggage, the information that is obtained is limited. Although, seizing the individual’s luggage was not permitted, subsequent exposure to a highly trained canine did not constitute a search under the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

City of Indianapolis v. Edmond

The case of City of Indianapolis v. Edmond also had a drastic effect on criminal defense in Arizona. In this case the city was operating checkpoints on random roads in an effort to block unlawful drugs. The Supreme Court held that stopping an individual’s vehicle is a seizure with the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and is unlawful without probable cause, which was lacking in this case. The Courts decision that the walk-around was invalid because it had arisen from a roadblock that violated the fourth amendment had a great effect on criminal defense in Arizona

Illinois v. Caballes

The decision in Illinois v. Caballes stemmed from an Illinois state trooper’s stop of a motorist for speeding and greatly affected criminal defense in Arizona. Concededly the stop was based on probably cause and was considered lawful. A second trooper soon arrived with his narcotics-detection dog and walked this dog around the care while the first officer wrote a ticket. When the dog alerted the troopers to the trunk they searched it and found marijuana.

Finally, the moment had arrived to put some bite into the dictum in Place, i.e., that a canine sniff is not a search; a ruling that again had a drastic effect on criminal defense in Arizona. A divided supreme court held that, due to the fact that the dog sniff was performed only on the exterior of the care while the motorist was legally seized for speeding, any intrusion of his privacy expectations did not infringe about his rights. During a concededly lawful stop, a dog sniff reveals that only the location of contraband passes muster under the Fourth Amendment.

This article has discussed the major Supreme Court case that affect canine sniffs and the fourth amendment and how these cases affect criminal defense in Arizona. These four cases all have different rulings on the Fourth Amendment and determine how law enforcement officers are allowed to conduct searches and seizures.

About the Author
David Michael Cantor is an AV rated (the highest possible rating) lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about an Arizona Criminal Defense, visit our site.

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