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Supreme Court of the United States Finds Delays In Traffic Stops Are A Violation Of The Fourth Amendment

Posted On: June 1, 2015 by Marc Neff

In a 6-3 decision issued today in the case of Rodriguez v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Nebraska police violated the Fourth Amendment by extending an otherwise lawful traffic stop in order to let a drug-sniffing dog investigate the outside of the vehicle.

At issue was a 2012 traffic stop conducted by a Nebraska police officer who happened to have his K-9 dog in the cruiser with him. When the stopped driver refused to consent to letting the drug dog walk around the outside of his vehicle, the officer called for back-up, thereby prolonging the stop by an additional eight minutes. According to the Court’s ruling today, those extra minutes violated Rodriguez’s constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment.

The Court ultimately held that, “a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.”

“We can’t keep bending the Fourth Amendment to the resources of law enforcement,” “Particularly when this stop is not incidental to the purpose of the stop. It’s purely to help the police get more criminals, yes. But then the Fourth Amendment becomes a useless piece of paper.” The Court reasoned that “an officer…may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop,” However, “a dog sniff, unlike the routine measures just mentioned, is not an ordinary incident of a traffic stop.”

All persons charged with crimes are entitled to the protections afforded by the United States Constitution and the rules of evidence in a criminal court of law. 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 marc@nefflawoffices.com.

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