UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT RULES THAT DOG SNIFF ON CURTILAGE OF HOME IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Police took a drug-sniffing dog to the defendant's front porch. The drug dog showed a positive alert for narcotics. Based on the positive alert the officers obtained a search warrant and found marijuana plants in the house. The defendant was arrested and charged with trafficking in cannabis (marijuana).
The Supreme Court of Florida upheld a suppression of evidence and found that there was no probable cause for the search or arrest, rendering invalid the warrant based on information gathered in that search. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the evidence suppression.
Acting on an unverified tip that marijuana was being grown in the defendant's home, officers used a police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence. They gathered information in an area belonging to the defendant and from areas immediately surrounding his house (its "curtilage"). Curtilage enjoys fourth amendment protection as it is "part of the home." Officers physically entered and occupied the area to engage in conduct not explicitly or implicitly permitted by the homeowner. Officers entered the boundaries of the curtilage (note: the curtilage and front porch are classic examples of constitutionally protected areas).
The Supreme Court of the United States held that while an officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, introducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence is entirely different.
Accordingly, The United States Supreme Court ruled that the dog sniff on the front of the house was unconstitutional.