How Does the Use of a K-9 Detection Dog Affect Your Rights Regarding Search and Seizure Protections in Ohio law? Jim Dearie explains.
Our local Lebanon Schools have brought on a new partner in their effort to keep the schools safe and free from drugs. In a joint effort with the Lebanon Police Department, the schools will be bringing a detection dog onto school premises, and this dog may be searching the hallways and locker areas for the presence of illegal substances. Through a $30,000.00 grant from the State of Ohio, the school district was able to obtain the drug-alert K-9, Max, and pay for his initial training. Max’s ongoing care and training will be handled by the Lebanon Police Department.
Lebanon City Schools Superintendent Todd Yohey said in an April press release that he “saw the safety grant as a way to deter students from bringing illegal drugs and substances onto school grounds,” and that the school district wants “parents to know that we are looking out for the well-being of their children and trying to dissuade their participation in activities that may harm them.”
With Max in the hallways, parents and students at Lebanon High School and all over the country should understand current search & seizure law in Ohio. Be aware that if for any reason a dog alerts a handler while observing your property, you may be subject to a search by law enforcement.
K-9 Detection Dogs and Your Search & Seizure Rights
Most people know that law enforcement must obtain a warrant or have probable cause to search your private belongings. Police cannot demand to be allowed into your home, car, to search your person, or even read your texts and emails without a court order or a very good reason to believe that you are violating the law.
Some may be surprised, however, by the rules about what constitutes a search and what does not.
One example of an approved search procedure is through the use of police K-9 units with drug- detection dogs. K-9 searches of public property are allowable under the law, even without a warrant. While the practice may seem like a form of unwarranted search, the Supreme Court has ruled that simply allowing a police dog to sniff your property (you car, for example) does not violate your Constitutional rights.
In the 2015 Supreme Court case Supreme Court case Rodriguez v. United States, the court ruled that police did not need probable cause to place a detection dog near someone’s property, and that police are even allowed to extend routine traffic stops in order to allow the use of a dog.
This means that the dogs might be used at any time to search for contraband items, usually drugs. Dogs may be allowed to survey hotels, parking lots, school hallways and lockers, and other public areas. If the dog alerts its handler to potential illegal activity, the police then have the right to a full search, which may lead to arrest and charges in criminal courts.
Law enforcement often makes use of K-9 units, and have been expanding the use of these animals even more since the Rodriguez ruling in 2015.
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If you or your property have been the subject of a police search and you have any questions about your rights, give our attorneys a call. Our lawyers’ skills and experience will help you navigate the legal process and help you understand any charges against you. Our lawyers are familiar with the local Courts and can help you understand the strength of your case, and the likelihood of a favorable outcome in Court. During your first visit or phone call, we can do an initial assessment of your case, and give you a good idea of your personalized defense strategy, including how much our services will cost. Give us a call, any time day or night.
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