SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
STATE OF FLORIDA,
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE
SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA
The case present before us involves the constitutionality of a dog sniff in regards to the 4rth Amendment. The respondent claims that the police officer, a representative of the State of Florida lacked probable cause to search the vehicle. The dog used in the operation, Aldo was not reliable since his detector certification had expired. Also, the officer did not maintain a record of his field performance alerts. As a result, the respondent contends that Aldo’s alert was false thereby diminishing the validity of probable cause. On the other hand, the State of Florida counters by arguing that probable cause is a flexible common sense standard and requires only a fair probability and not hard certainties. Moreover, the officer who had trained with the dog is the best judge of the dog’s credibility as opposed to the Court’s especially since law enforcement agencies act with good faith. Consequently, defense counsel moved to suppress the physical evidence as the product of a warrantless search without probable cause. The trial court denied the motion to suppress but made no findings. The respondent then appealed to the Florida First District Court of Appeal. They affirmed. Harris v. State, 989 So. 2d 1214 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008). The Florida Supreme Court quashed the lower court decision. Harris v. State, 71 So. 3d 756 (Fla. 2011). The Court scrutinized the case under the totality of the circumstances test established in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213 (1983) and concluded that Aldo’s reliability, was not enough to demonstrate probable cause. Reversed and remanded: A dog sniff constitutes a minimal intrusive search, which is justifiable under the 4rth Amendment when accompanied by reasonable suspicion. Justice Guan-Yin delivered the opinion of the Court,
It is beyond doubt that the case present before us represents a landmark case in regards to the issue of canine sniffs, under the jurisprudence of the 4rth Amendment. We say this, because this is the first case to explicitly challenge the Court’s conventional view, that a canine sniff does not constitute a “search” under 4rth Amendment, with adequate data that demonstrates the fallibility of canines. As a result, it is important for the Court to examine the history of 4rth Amendment jurisprudence in general as well as in regards to the issue of canine sniffs. In doing so, we shall observe that the current standard used by the Court to determine that a dog sniff is not a search is inconsistent with the history of 4rth Amendment jurisprudence in general, especially when we examine it along with current wisdom. Therefore, we conclude that a canine sniff is a minimally intrusive search that maybe justified under the 4rth Amendment, if carried out with reasonable suspicion. The opinion is divided into five parts. Section I will provide the history of the 4rth Amendment. Section II will identify the progression of 4rth Amendment jurisprudence in recent times. Section III will recognize the specific issue of canine sniffs under 4rth Amendment jurisprudence by taking into account current knowledge while making certain conclusions. Section IV involves the application of the different principles identified in Section I, II, and III to the case present before us. Finally, Section V will serve as the conclusion.
The history of the 4rth Amendment can be traced back to English common law of search and seizure protection in the Semayane’s case. Semayane’s case (1604) 5 Coke Rep. 91. Sir Edward Coke ruled that, "The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defense against injury and violence as for his...