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Supreme Court to weigh in on what constitutes a routine stop

As we have said before on this blog, we here at Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer are avid followers of criminal defense cases. That's because we, just like our more frequent readers, understand the importance of staying up-to-date on the changing landscape of the law. We see it as necessary in order to successfully put forward the best criminal defense and protect the rights of our clients.

One right we have seen violated and nearly violated time and again is a person's Fourth Amendment right. As we explained in a December post on the topic, law enforcement agencies must have at least reasonable suspicion in order to request the necessary search order from the courts. Without this, law enforcement risk violating a person's civil rights, jeopardizing the validity of the case later on.

In our December post, we demonstrated this through the case of Heien v. North Carolina where a routine traffic stop resulted in drug charges. As we explained, police were able to execute a search and seizure of drug evidence because they had the reasonable suspicion necessary to make the search. But a new case before the U.S. Supreme Court is questioning what really constitutes as "reasonable" under the Fourth Amendment.

In the case of Rodriguez v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court must answer an important question: how long can police detain a person during a routine traffic stop before the stop falls outside the "reasonable" limits of the Fourth Amendment? Depending on how the court decides, the outcome of the case could mean sweeping changes in how law enforcement agencies conduct traffic stops that could lead to the use of drug sniffing dogs and therefore longer traffic stops.

Because protecting the rights of our Missouri clients is important to us, we will make sure to let our readers know about any updates regarding this case. We will also make sure that whatever the high court decides, our readers understand how it will apply to them in future traffic stops.

Source: Scotusblog.com, "Argument analysis: What exactly is a "routine" traffic stop, and should a suspicionless dog sniff be part of it?" Rory Little, January 22, 2015

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