The use of dogs to sniff out contraband remains one of the most frequent methods by which police discover contraband in vehicles traveling on the highway. The Supreme Court has allowed such searches in limited circumstances, but only in those instances where there is not a delay between the stop and the dog's arrival. Anything beyond a brief delay constitutes a seizure, which requires probable cause to be lawful. This "time-limiting doctrine" was firmly adopted by the Supreme Court in Rodriguez v. United States.
The Fourth Amendment provides citizens with the most protection inside their own homes. A recent decision by the Florida Second District Court of Appeal-Davis v. State-addressed which areas in a rooming house constitute a Defendants' "home" for the purposes of such protection. Davis involved a defendant who stashed a pill bottle containing cocaine inside a lattice beneath the rooming house where he sometimes stayed. A police officer proceeded to remove the lattice and search the pill bottle. Davis's criminal defense attorney sought to suppress the results of the search. He argued that removing the lattice constituted an unlawful search of the defendant's home.
Approximately 96% of all vehicles manufactured since 2013 are equipped with devices called event data recorders-or "black boxes"-that keep track of data such as when the driver brakes, steering, engine rpm during a crash. More sophisticated black boxes record a wealth of information about a person's driving habits ranging from where they go, how fast they drive, and even whether the vehicles systems are in working order. In the hands of law enforcement officers or prosecutors, such data can become powerful evidence in a criminal case.
"HOT PURSUIT" DOES NOT PERMIT THE WARRANTLESS ENTRY INTO A HOME TO ARREST FOR NON-VIOLENT MISDEMEANOR
Qualified immunity is one of the largest obstacles facing civil rights attorneys. The doctrine of qualified immunity gives police officers or other state actors immunity from suit in certain situations. To overcome the defense the plaintiff first needs to prove that (1) the defendant violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (2) that the constitutional violation
The Fourth Amendment only applies residences when a police officer conducts a "search" of that residence. A common tactic that police officers use to get around the Amendment's protections is to use a technique called a "knock-and-talk." During these encounters, police officers will approach a residence, knock on the door, and try to get an occupant inside to speak with them. During that encounter, officers will either seek permission to enter the house (meaning that they do not need a warrant or probable cause) or will try to detect evidence of contraband in plain view from the doorway.
The Fourth Amendment restricts when a police officer may stop a person. Generally, an officer must have probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime in order to stop them. When police officers conduct a traffic stop, there is no question that they are allowed detain the driver. But what happens if one of the passengers of the vehicle wants to leave in the middle of the stop?
The legal doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials who apply force reasonably or apply force in situations where the law is unclear. The purpose of qualified immunity is to prevent government officials from being discouraged carrying out their duties or protecting themselves from violent individuals. In practice, however, qualified immunity often causes judges to throw meritorious lawsuits out of court.
Ordinarily, when a police officer seeks to enter a person's vehicle without their permission, they need to have some reasonable suspicion that its occupants have engaged in criminal activity. One exception to this rule is the "community care-taker" exception. This doctrine dates back to a 1973 Supreme Court Case called Cady v. Dombrowski. In that case, a police officer took custody of the defendant's vehicle following a traffic accident so that he could move the vehicle out of oncoming traffic. Upon learning that there was a revolver in the trunk of the vehicle, the officer opened the trunk and removed the gun.
It is not unusual for law enforcement officers to turn a traffic stop into a full blown search and seizure of the vehicle that has been stopped. How is this accomplished? First, many times the officers, who have made what seems to be a routine traffic stop, know they will find contraband in the vehicle. The traffic stop is used as an excuse to get inside the vehicle, without the police having to reveal the source of their information that the car is carrying. After issuing a traffic citation, a "casual" request to search the vehicle is made. If consent is declined, the officers call back-up to bring a drug sniffing dog. If the dog alerts to the presence of contraband, the vehicle is searched based upon that alert and no one, including the driver ever knows the actual reason for the search.