Drug cases may be really complex, and that’s why you actually need a proficient New Mexico drug lawyer, to definitely help you win your case. Drug traffic stop and search cases may be especially complicated. If you have been arrested for drugs when driving and a drug-sniffing canine was involved, you possibly have to know what rules and regulations officers need to consider.
Traffic Stops and Reasonable Suspicion
Right before searching a vehicle, the officer must definitely have what is defined as probable cause, meaning that their belief that a crime has occurred should be backed by evidence. The evidence would be physical, details from witnesses, or the officer’s own observations, but must go beyond mere suspicion. As a matter of fact, the preliminary hearing is regarded as “probable cause hearing,” and is specifically made to examine the proof for any probable cause scenarios.
In this process, it will be determined if the policeman had probable cause, the belief that a crime transpired or was happening, or reasonable suspicion, giving the officer the right to apprehend and inspect the suspect. But actually, neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion is required to call for a drug-sniffing canine to the situation during a standard traffic stop. This was established by the Supreme Court in Illinois v. Caballes, in which Roy Caballes was pulled over for speeding and eventually arrested for marijuana trafficking after a drug dog was brought to the scene and alerted on his motor vehicle.
In a 6-2 ruling, the Court favored the state, with Justice John Paul Stevens writing that drug sniffing dog searches did not defy Fourth Amendment rights. He really felt that the expectation of privacy did not extend to illegal narcotics. In this case, any positive signal may be considered probable cause to implement a search. If the drug dog signals that it smells drugs, the arresting officer then has probable cause to conduct a search.
You do, nonetheless, have some proper protection in this particular scenario; example, an officer cannot detain you indefinitely, or even for an unreasonable amount of time while waiting for the drug dog to arrive. Basically speaking, if the arresting policeman cannot set off the drug canine to the scene in the time it takes to run your tags and write a ticket, the use of the dog becomes constitutionally suspect.
So, if you’re pulled over and the officer threatens to call for the K-9 unit, you are not obliged to say yes to searches. While waiting on the canine to appear, you likewise have the right to establish if it is right for you to leave by promptly asking if you are free to leave. If the police officer says no and goes ahead to detain you until the dogs appear, you have the right to remain silent and proceed to decline to consent to a dog sniff, even though the police officer says you have to consent.
You should be mindful that opening your car for the police officer or handing over your keys is the same as approval. If a judge decides that the policeman had no reason to detain you, any evidence discovered by the drug dog may possibly be tossed out in court.
The Reliability of Drug Sniffing Dogs
For several years, dogs have been used by people for their spectacular sense of smell, as their noses contain more than 200 million receptors (compared to the 10 million humans possess). Several breeds even have the exceptional ability to recognize particular scents of things which are fully submerged in water, which is very vital for law enforcement since drug smugglers regularly try to mask the odor of drugs with some other substance.
This is not to say that a dog’s sense of smell is infallible, and the accuracy of many a drug sniffing dog has been brought into question in court. The American Society of Canine Trainers (ASCT) even admits to the surprisingly poor accuracy rates of drug sniffing dogs, pointing out averages as low as 62% (Currency Searches, 2015).
There are many reasons and variables for this terribly low accuracy rate. Sometimes a trained drug dog’s nose is even too strong, and may lead to the detection of trace scents left behind by drugs which are no longer actually present. It should also be taken into consideration that there is a notable difference between what a dog can do, versus what a dog actually does. What the dog actually does is almost completely dependent on the training received, for which there are no required national standards for certification. Moreover, no matter how effective or ineffective a dog may really be, it is capable of acting on its own behalf and as a result, it may be almost impossible to ascertain the motivation for any particular response.
Certainly we would like to believe that these animals are selfless and devoted to satisfying their trainers, yet that in itself could be problematic. Dog handlers can unintentionally cue alerts from their dogs by leading them too slowly or too many times around an automobile.
Contact New Mexico Drug Attorney
Never assume that just because police are in a position of power, they are always right. If you feel you were subjected to an unlawful drug search, you deserve to have the issue looked into by a competent New Mexico drug attorney.
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