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Fourth Amendment Protects Homes From Warrantless Drug Dog “Sniff Tests”

Posted On: March 9, 2012 by Marc Neff

The Supreme Court of Florida has decided the case of Joelis Jardines, Petitioner, v. State of Florida, Respondent, No. SC08-2101, 2011 WL 1405080 (April 14, 2011).

In this matter, police conducted a warrantless “sniff test” by a drug detection dog at defendant’s home and discovered live marijuana plants inside. The trial court granted defendant’s motion to suppress, the district court reversed, but the Supreme Court stated that the warrantless “sniff test” that was conducted at the front door of the residence was an unreasonable government intrusion into the sanctity of the home. The court stated, “The United States Supreme Court has held that at the very core of the Fourth Amendment stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion. Or, more succinctly, with few exceptions, the question whether a warrantless search of a home is reasonable and hence constitutional must be answered no.”

The court further found that the “sniff test” at issue was a sophisticated undertaking that was the end result of a sustained and coordinated effort by various law enforcement departments. On the scene, the procedure involved multiple police vehicles, multiple law enforcement personnel, including narcotics detectives and other officers, and an experienced dog handler and trained drug detection dog engaged in a vigorous search effort on the front porch of the residence.

The court felt that if government agents could conduct a dog “sniff test” at a private residence without any prior evidentiary showing of wrongdoing, there would be nothing to prevent the agents from applying the procedure in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner, or based on whim and fancy, at the home of any citizen. Therefore, the warrantless “sniff test” that was conducted at the front door of Jardines’ residence was an unreasonable government intrusion and a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

All persons charged with crimes are entitled to the protections afforded by the United States Constitution. An experienced criminal defense attorney helps to ensure that a defendant’s rights are protected before, during and after a trial. If you have been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately. For a confidential consultation, contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff at (215) 563-9800 or via email at

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Posted in: Drug Crimes