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Jardines v. Florida: the case that reigned in drug-sniffing dogs

Throughout the history of the United States there have been a number of court cases that have captured the nation's attention because they raise important legal questions that are applicable in just about every state. Some of them you may be able to cite off the top of your head even though you may not have a legal background.

One such case is that of Jardines v. Florida, which was decided on in2013 by the U.S. Supreme Court. It raised two important questions that some of our Missouri readers have probably asked before: do police need a warrant before using a drug-sniffing dog at a person's residence? And furthermore, could the use of a drug-sniffing dog to gather evidence constitute as an unreasonable search if a warrant is not obtained?

In past court cases that have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court, the use of drug-sniffing dogs without a warrant has been permitted because, as the court explained, these instances took place in public areas such as during routine traffic stop or at an airport. But Jardines v. Florida was different. The drug-sniffing dog was used at a person's residence where "privacy expectations are most heightened."

As the Fourth Amendment states, it's "the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion." By using the drug-sniffing dog, without a warrant, on the property of the accused, the officers in this case violated Jardines' constitutional rights. It's a court decision that will have lasting impact on future cases.

Drug charges are incredibly serious, whether you live here in Missouri or another state. But situations in which criminal charges are levied against someone are always made worse when a violation of that person's constitutional rights has occurred. But if Supreme Court decisions such as this can be used in an accused person's defense, then those criminal charges could be dropped or a reversal of a lower court decision could occur, which is a more favorable outcome for the accused.

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