Drug Crime Defense: The Myth of the Infallible Drug Sniffing Dog


Defending people against the massive assault by the Federal Government called the War on Drugs in drug possession, drug trafficking, possession with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to distribute or manufacture controlled substances cases calls on us to fulfil our duty as dedicated defense attorneys to ensure the government has abided by the Constitution in the area of search and seizure, including canine “alerts” or dog sniff cases.

United States Supreme Court Justice Souter’s dissenting opinion in Illinois v. Caballes sums up our attitude regarding narcotic cases where probable cause or reasonable suspicion is based on a positive canine alert.

“At the heart both of Place and the Court’s opinion today is the proposition that sniffs by a trained dog are sui generis because a reaction by the dog in going alert is a response to nothing but the presence of contraband.

Hence, the argument goes, because the sniff can only reveal the presence of items devoid of any legal use, the sniff “does not implicate legitimate privacy interests” and is not to be treated as a search.

The infallible dog, however, is a creature of legal fiction. Although the Supreme Court of Illinois did not get into the sniffing averages of drug dogs, their supposed infallibility is belied by judicial opinions describing well-trained animals sniffing and alerting with less than perfect accuracy, whether owing to errors by their handlers, the limitations of the dogs themselves, or even the pervasive contamination of currency by cocaine. … Indeed, a study cited by Illinois in this case for the proposition that dog sniffs are “generally reliable” shows that dogs in artificial testing situations return false positives anywhere from 12.55 to 60% of the time, depending on the length of the search. … In practical terms, the evidence is clear that the dog that alerts hundreds of times will be wrong dozens of times.”

Our dedicated defense attorneys defend all drug crimes at the Federal and State level including:

MDMA (ecstasy), Rohypnol, GHB Selling prescription pills (Xanax) Cocaine and crack cocaine Conspiracy Drug cultivation and manufacturing Drug trafficking, transportation, and distribution Heroin possession and sales Marijuana possession and sales Methamphetamine manufacturing and sales Possession of chemicals for drug manufacturing Possession with intent to deliver and drugs sales False or forged prescriptions Police sting operations.

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