For many New Jersey residents, dogs are pets, however, for man police officers, dogs are often regarded as employees of the department. An issue has made its way all the way to our nation's top court as it sparks much deliberation among state supreme courts and constitutionality: dogs sniffing out for drugs around and up close to our homes.
This issue may seem trivial to some, but there have been cases reported and tried for constitutionality when a dog scopes out a home without a warrant. Now, the Supreme Court is seeing this matter and has begun to ask questions about how to decide. There are those who argue that a police officer is able communicate with a resident through their door in an effort to determine if there is evidence of unlawful activity and procure a warrant, so the dogs going up to doors and marking them ought to be the same.
One of the Supreme Court justices poses a different question: if these drug-sniffing dogs are allowed to go around houses and mark them for illegal substances in order to get a warrant, then how far will it go? Will they be taken to notorious areas so that officers can search any house they suspect with these dogs and then be able to get a warrant? The Supreme Court is also focusing on the different factors, such as the kind of training these animals receive and how that may influence the constitutionality.
Another state's supreme court decided that the use of police dog's sniffing around a home was an "'unreasonable government intrusion into the sanctity of the home,'" in reference to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However the court decides, New Jersey residents may want to pay attention to how this case is decided. For those of you who have been charged with drug crimes, ensuring your rights have been preserved with the help of legal counsel could be beneficial to your case. Knowing and understanding your options in the state and country can help you to move forward from such charges.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Sniffing out justice - but is it legal?," Diane Dimond, Nov. 15, 2012