Police are required to have a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" of drug-related activity before they will be allowed to walk a trained narcotics-detection dog down the hallway of your apartment building. The Minnesota Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police. Evidence obtained as the result of an illegal search and seizure will be suppressed by the court and can not be used against you at trial. Suppression of the evidence is the price the police must pay for violating your constitutional rights. The remedy is designed to deter future police misconduct.
What facts would create a reasonable, articulable suspicion of drug-related activity to support the use by police of a narcotic-detection dog? Suspicion may be indicated by a report of a high volume of short term traffic coming and leaving the apartment. An observation that known drug users and drug dealers are visiting your apartment on a regular basis may create reasonable, articulable suspicion. A report by a citizen informant that drug paraphernalia was present in your apartment would provide a basis for conducting a dog sniff. Knowledge by police that you were active in the use and sale of controlled substances would also be a factor. The suspicion required to use a narcotics detection dog must be something more than a mere hunch by the police.
What happens if a narcotic-detection dog alerts to an odor of a controlled substance outside the door of my apartment? The police will draft an application for the issuance of a search warrant and submit the application and warrant to a district court judge for approval. The warrant will allow the police to search the suspect and the apartment for evidence of controlled substances, paraphernalia, etc. A judge will review the search warrant affidavit to determine whether or not, under the totality of the circumstances, there is probable cause to believe controlled substances will be found in the apartment and on the person of the suspect.
What should you do if the police find controlled substances in your apartment during the execution of a search warrant? You will need to retain an experienced narcotics defense attorney to defend your freedom. The search warrant may be defective on the grounds that the police did not have reasonable, articulable suspicion to conduct the dog sniff used to support the issuance of the warrant. Call Minnesota criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024. Mr. Shane is a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney with 30 years of courtroom experience and a winning record.